BMCC Accounting Alumni Reach Global Heights in Their Professions

July 20, 2023

Since graduating from Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) in the early 2000’s, Sean Cornelius and Yefry Jave have met tremendous success in the accounting and finance world.  They shared insight on their fields and how BMCC set them on a path to further academic achievement and success in their careers.  

Yefry Jave moved to New York City from Lima, Peru after finishing high school in 1998.  He spent the next two years learning English and in 2000, enrolled at BMCC majoring in Accounting.  Two years later, in 2002, he graduated BMCC and transferred to Baruch College, CUNY, graduating in 2006.  He’s currently the Vice President of Finance and Operations at the luxury design firm Michael Aram Inc.  

Sean Cornelius was 19 years old with he moved to New York City from the Caribbean island Saint Kitts.   In the summer of 2002, Cornelius enrolled at BMCC, also majoring in Accounting.  In 2004, Cornelius graduated BMCC and transferred to Baruch College where he graduated in 2007.  He’s currently an Assurance Director at one of the world’s largest accounting firms, BDO USA, LLP.  Cornelius is also a member of the BDO Audit Quality National team which acts a think tank and provides resources and guidance on technical matters throughout BDO. 

Yefry Jave’s career allows him to see a different side of accounting

“I knew I wanted to travel the world, analyze financial statements, advise management and get paid for what I love to do,” said Jave, who in addition to his current position at Michael Aram Inc., teaches an accounting class at BMCC. “With that in mind, I chose accounting.” 

Jave initially chose BMCC because of its location in Manhattan but also as the best launching pad to a four-year institution.   

“Then I began to realize the professors at BMCC are among the best in New York City,” said Jave. “They are not only experts in the subjects they teach, they deeply care about students and their professional development.  I, for one, know that BMCC professors become mentors for life.  They push you, they do anything they can to help you be successful.” 

He added that the student support network, from the staff in the library and computer labs to the tutors in the Learning Resource Center, all go above and beyond to help students. 

When he started his first accounting course, Principles of Accounting 1, taught by Department Chairperson and Professor Josh Wolfson, Jave was nervous but determined to do well. 

“My decision to major in accounting had come from research on the web and accounting professionals who I had talked with; however, this was going to be the first time that I was going to be really exposed to the nitty gritty of the accounting world,” said Jave. “I was determined to get an ‘A’ in the class. I still remember the first day, Professor Wolfson told the class, “if you are going to major in accounting, be ready to eat, drink and breathe accounting.”” 

By the end of the semester, Jave says he had mastered the basics and principles of accounting. 

“I knew my debits and credits and other accounting techniques and I actually became obsessed with accounting and yes, I got an ‘A’ in the class,” said Jave.   

After graduating from Baruch College, he started his career as an auditor working as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with the state of New York.  Since then, he’s held positions such as Financial Controller, Director of Finance and Operations and Vice President of Finance and Operations at high-end fashion and design firms such as Pomellato Escada, Jimmy Choo, Lalique and now Michael Aram.   

“My career has allowed me to see a different, more fun and exciting side of accounting,” said Jave. “The fun thing about accounting, you can work for the FBI, the IRS or a private fashion or design company.”  

Sean Cornelius says having a CPA is tremendous credential

“My view of BMCC has been shaped by my experience not just as student, but as a tutor,” said Cornelius, who arrived in New York City at age 19 just after his high school graduation in 2001.  

At the time, he lived near Medgar Evers College, CUNY in Brooklyn and also had several friends urging him to apply to City College of New York, CUNY. Instead, Cornelius wanted to be in the heart of the financial district in Manhattan where he could expand his social and professional connections.  

One afternoon, while riding the subway, he saw a BMCC advertisement and the slogan “Start Here, Go Anywhere” stood out. After exploring the BMCC website, reading stories about student success then getting advice from a family member, he applied and later attended an orientation. 

“I spent some time in the cafeteria and observed how diverse everyone was. There were also a lot of international students just like me,” said Cornelius, who also took a course with Professor Wolfson that he says, left a lasting and motivational impact. 

During his time at BMCC, Cornelius consistently made the Dean’s list and he later became an academic tutor.  Even after graduating BMCC in 2004, for more than six years, Cornelius would return on a regular basis to BMCC to tutor accounting students and would continue to do so were it not for his busy schedule, although he still comes back each year to speak with students.  

“While tutoring, I developed a passion for helping other BMCC accounting students,” said Cornelius.  “Looking back, I’ve realized what a personalized, supportive environment BMCC provides for its students, so they can become the best of themselves. Over the years, I’ve met numerous BMCC graduates in the professional world, and they are almost always focused and very determined to succeed.”  

From a focus on taxes to production management, he says accounting offers a lot of flexibility in the work world.   

“Every business, no matter what, needs good accounting to be successful,” said Cornelius. 

He added that individuals with accounting credentials are also less subject to the ebbs and flows of the economy.  

“During the financial crisis of 2008, when Bear Sterns Companies and Lehman Brothers went down, a lot of people who had majored in finance went back to college and earned degrees in accounting,” he said. “Having a CPA provides a tremendous credential.” 


  • Accounting alumni Yefry Jave and Sean Cornelius started at BMCC and now hold prestigious positions at global firms
  • Cornelius and Jave say supportive system at BMCC enabled them to excel academically
  • Yefry Jave is VP of Finance at luxury design firm while Sean Cornelius is an Assurance Director at one of the world’s largest accounting firms

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