By Deanna C. White
At first glance, the ten graduate students who have been named the latest recipients of a highly coveted American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) scholarship would seem to have nothing in common. They majored in subjects as disparate as community health, women's studies, literature, and history, and they originally believed they would choose careers as diverse as teaching Spanish and logistics management.
But now they all have one thing in common: they've each decided to devote their unique talents and perspectives to a career in public accounting, and they've each been named recipients of the 2013-2014 AICPA John L. Carey Scholarship.
The John L. Carey Scholarship is a one-year, $5,000 scholarship specifically designed to assist students who have decided to make the transition from liberal arts and other nontraditional business backgrounds to pursue graduate accounting degrees and become CPAs.
The scholarship was established by members of the accounting profession to honor John Carey upon his retirement from the AICPA in 1969. Carey spent over forty years at the AICPA, including as administrative vice president, executive director, and as editor and publisher of the Journal of Accountancy. Carey was also a professor at universities in Georgia and Illinois.
"Mr. Carey spent his entire career in the service of the accounting profession and firmly believed in attracting outstanding students from many disciplines to the profession", said Scott Moore, AICPA director of Student and Professional Pathways. "We believe, as Mr. Carey did, that the profession thrives with diverse skills and perspectives. We want do all we can to encourage talented students of all backgrounds to enter the profession."
The 2013-2014 recipients of the John L. Carey Scholarship are:
- Heather Creech, University of North Carolina (UNC) - Chapel Hill
- Brian Doud, Wake Forest University
- Daniel Hirsty, University of Texas - Austin
- Betsy Jacobson, Northeastern University
- Angela Janda, University of New Mexico
- Michael Lauridsen, DePaul University
- Josh Lewer, Georgia Regents University
- Shane Maldonado, Mills College
- Nicole Wolfe, University of Southern California
- Jessica Woo, University of Southern California
Heather Creech, a Master of Accounting student at the UNC - Chapel Hill, was originally a Spanish and education double major with the intention of becoming a Spanish teacher or professor, but during her master's program in Spanish Linguistics, she realized that the job market for the field she was entering was "not the best fit" for her. "I wanted a highly marketable job that would enable me to choose the city in which I wanted to live and had long-term job security", Creech said.
Creech added",The accounting field appealed to me because of the opportunity provided in its integration with the larger business world. I also enjoy working in highly analytical, detail-oriented environments, which the accounting profession provides. Also, huge deciding factors were the varied career opportunities that are available to CPAs and the marketability of the profession in general."
Once she researched being a CPA, Creech said she was pleased to learn that a career in accounting is about much more than crunching numbers and doing taxes. "During the past year in my accounting program, I have been surprised at the amount of judgment, analysis, and research that is necessary in the field. I feel like many students have the perception that accountants are tied to their computer in a cubicle all day", Creech said. "However, as a future auditor I look forward to working on interactive teams, learning the insides of multiple industries, and interacting with the client team on a daily basis.
She also believes the presentation and interpersonal skills she developed as an educator will transfer to her future career as an auditor, and she hopes her international studies and bilingual skills will also allow her to bring a unique global perspective to her future employers.
"Each of these scholarship recipients has a unique story", Moore said. "Their family, education, and personal experiences have helped shape who they are today. This leads to varied perspectives and skills that enhance collaboration, teamwork, and problem solving, which are necessary in today's marketplace."
Recipients of the John L. Carey Scholarship were selected by a task force that considered applications, academic transcripts, recommendation letters, and personal essays. Applicants are chosen based on academic achievement, leadership, and commitment to pursuing a CPA license. Additionally, applicants must be full-time graduate level students for the upcoming academic year.
The ten John L. Carey Scholarship recipients will become part of the AICPA Legacy Scholars program, which was established in 2011. The AICPA Legacy Scholars program awards recipients with a one-year AICPA scholarship and continues to offer benefits beyond their academic careers through the AICPA Legacy Scholars Alumni.
The application deadline for the 2014-2015 AICPA John L. Carey Scholarship program is April 1, 2014. For more information about this and other AICPA scholarship programs, visit the AICPA website.