Summer Programs Increase Diversity for CPA Students

This summer, leaders in the CPA profession will once again join forces with colleges and universities to further their diversity goals when they host two summer leadership programs for accounting and business students from diverse backgrounds. The programs may adopt different methods and curriculum, but both transform a few days in what could easily become a forgettable summer "vacation" into a game-changing experience for many of these college students—an experience will help them lay the foundation for future college and career success.

The Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop, now in its 20th year, is designed to enhance diversity in the accounting profession by encouraging more minority college students to major in accounting and earn the CPA credential.

Over the past two decades, AICPA officials say, the workshop has had a positive impact on thousands of minority college students, and the CPA profession itself, by "strengthening students' professional skills and understanding of the limitless possibilities and benefits of earning the CPA credential."

"The AICPA’s Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop is an excellent opportunity for minority accounting majors to hear firsthand what a career in the CPA profession entails," said Kim Drumgo, AICPA director, diversity and inclusion, and vice chair of the National Commission on Diversity and Inclusion.

The workshop is an all-expense-paid, two-day event, sponsored by the AICPA Foundation, which provides top-performing college students with strategies for enhancing professional success, increasing confidence, and improving communication skills. The workshop also exposes students to the various career paths within the accounting profession.

"Many of the students in this program are either first-generation college or first-generation corporate, which creates special challenges and rewards," Drumgo said. "Oftentimes these students don’t know their higher education and career options, and this program helps to fill that gap. We want to offer these students a firsthand exposure to the accounting profession and alleviate any misconceptions they may have about the profession."

The workshop agenda includes speakers, panel discussions, and interactive workshops on topics like acing the CPA exam, navigating corporate culture, and thinking like an entrepreneur, designed to "strengthen students’ professional skills," Drumgo said.

Attendees also have the opportunity to network with accomplished CPA professionals and fellow students—connections that can have a lasting impact on their careers.

The program made an impact on Elmas Martin, a master of science in accountancy student at California State University, East Bay, Hayward, California, and a 2013 workshop attendee. Martin said interaction with CPA mentors taught her that "leadership is one of the most important attributes for a young accountant."

Continued Martin: "It was always a goal of mine to obtain a US CPA license. But, the workshop also helped me to understand the advantages of obtaining my master of accountancy degree."

The 2014 Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop will be held:

The AICPA is accepting applications for all workshops through April 1, 2014. For complete requirements, or to apply, visit

The St. Thomas of Villanova Scholars Program, Villanova University
This summer, business students from diverse backgrounds who are entering their freshmen year at Villanova University in Villanova, Pennsylvania, will have the chance hone their college and career skills, and explore all the possibilities inherent in a business or accounting degree, through an expansion of the St. Thomas of Villanova Scholars program (STOVS). EY is one of the sponsors, along with Johnson & Johnson and Bloomberg.

During their three-week residency, participants  live in the residence halls; familiarize themselves with the campus; connect with university faculty and administrators; and immerse themselves in academics by taking college courses.

Business scholars also participate in workshops on various areas of academic and social life on campus, and have the chance to test their budding networking skills; practicing with participants from corporate sponsors like Ken Bouyer, EY Americas director of inclusiveness recruiting.

"The STOVS program brings high-achieving students to Villanova, helps them excel academically and prepares them for opportunities in the accounting and business professions," Bouyer said. "Villanova's focus on minority retention and academic success is particularly attractive to us, because it demonstrates that university and faculty leaders understand and share the view that important core concepts like diversity and inclusiveness matter and impact the broader business community."

The 2014 STOVS program will be held July 7-26. Visit the Villanova site for more information.

Related article:

Illinois Internship Program Provides Access, Mentorship for Minority Student

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