AICPA minority scholarship program recognizes exceptional student achievement

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Through the life of the AICPA Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students, the American Institute of CPAs has sought to increase the number of accounting graduates and licensed CPAs from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Over the past forty years, more than 8,500 students have been awarded this scholarship, totaling nearly $14 million in individual awards. The AICPA awarded 94 accounting students with scholarships ranging in amounts from $1,500–$3,000 each for the 2009–2010 academic year. These students represent 76 schools in 29 states across the country.

Recipients are selected based on outstanding academic achievement, leadership, and commitment to pursuing the CPA license. Recent scholarship recipient, Emmanuel "Manny" Ojobaro, Jr., exemplifies the character and achievement embodied by this prestigious scholarship program. Ojobaro was awarded the AICPA Minority Scholarship while attending the University of Houston, where he was actively involved in campus activities including INROADS (an international organization helping businesses gain greater access to diverse talent), Beta Alpha Psi (the professional honors organization for financial information students and professionals), and Student Government. Ojobaro learned about the scholarship program while attending the AICPA Accounting Scholars Leadership Workshop in 2007.

Born in Nigeria to an American mother and Nigerian father, Ojobaro was instilled with a strong work ethic and driven to be the best at whatever path he chose. While he initially considered studying marketing or sales, Ojobaro found during his first college accounting course that accounting concepts interested and challenged him. Upon completion of managerial accounting, he admits that he was "hooked." Ojobaro's interest in the subject matter combined with accounting's high earning potential, advancement opportunity, and dynamic learning opportunities made him set his sights on earning the CPA designation. Ojobaro completed the University of Houston's five-year Masters in Accountancy program, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2008.

In early 2010, with the successful completion of the CPA exam and work experience requirement behind him, Ojobaro anxiously waits to hear from the Texas licensing board that he will officially be a CPA. He admits that studying and sitting for the CPA exam were extremely challenging, but that the discipline and problem-solving skills he has developed from the experience is already paying off. Passing the CPA exam has provided Ojobaro with confidence and optimism in his auditing role at Ernst & Young's Houston office, where he has worked for over one year. Ojobaro 's clients include companies in the oil and gas, airlines, real estate, and manufacturing industries. "It's never boring", Ojobaro says of his work environment. "There are really busy times but the work itself and the people I interact with are great."

Ojobaro 's former accounting professor, George Gamble, wrote of his student in 2007",Manny possesses the ethical sophistication that is paramount in the CPA profession." In his scholarship essay in May 2008, Ojobaro stated "I look forward to taking and passing the CPA exam so that I will soon be able to give back to the profession and repay my debt by assisting others in achieving their dreams."

When asked what advice he would give to students who are uncertain about their career paths, Ojobaro said",Explore the opportunities in the accounting profession. I believe this profession is one that affords ordinary people with ordinary backgrounds extraordinary opportunities. Once and if you decide to pursue an accounting career, develop a plan as soon as possible to prepare for and take the CPA exam."

Forty years since the inception of its minority initiatives programs, the AICPA continues its effort to identify and assist students of high potential throughout the country. This program provides financial assistance and recognition to the nation's top minority accounting talent through renewable financial awards. To learn more about the AICPA Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students, visit the program Web site or e-mail [email protected].

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