For 22 years, the Accounting Careers Awareness Program (ACAP-Ohio) has provided minority high school students with opportunities to explore career options in accounting and business. And for exactly half of that time, Edwin Jones has been involved in ACAP-Ohio either as a student, counselor, chair, executive director or advisor.

Edwin Jones headshot
Edwin Jones

Jones (BSBA ’08, MBA ’15) returned this year, where he shared his ACAP experiences not only with the program’s students, but also with those in charge of this year’s event. For Jones — and other former ACAP participants-turned-leaders — giving back to the program is part of what makes ACAP-Ohio special.

“As a student, the program was tiring, amazing, educational and fun, because I was learning what it's like to be a college student,” said Jones, a client representative at IBM. “Over time, those same learnings have taken on a different meaning, as the week isn't about me, but it’s about the students participating. I want the program to be educational, or else it's a waste of everyone's time. I want the program to be amazing, so the parents know we have given as much to their student as we could.”

See this year's ACAP-Ohio photos

2017 ACAP-Ohio Edwin Jones
Edwin Jones (third from right) is recognized at the 2015 ACAP-Ohio closing ceremony.

The ACAP-Ohio program began in 1995 at Otterbein University before moving to Ohio State two years later. The weeklong residency program includes interaction with Fisher faculty, professional speakers, team-building exercises, networking events, site visits and a college fair.

Since its inception, 16 graduate assistants in Fisher’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion Student Services (ODISS) have served as executive directors of the ACAP-Ohio program. The involvement of the graduate assistants, many of whom participated in ACAP-Ohio, has created a legacy unique to the program and lifelong connections.

Mariah Scott headshot
Mariah Scott

“Edwin had a huge influence on me while I was in the program and as an alum,” said Mariah Scott, who participated in ACAP-Ohio after her junior year of high school in 2010. “He is one of the most genuine people that I have ever met. His phone has always been available whenever I need a pep talk or just someone to run through ideas with. He was a huge advocate for me to get the (ODISS) graduate assistantship to help fund graduate school, and I know that if I ever need him that he’ll always be there.”

Scott, a financial services advisor at EY in New York City, previously was a counselor and executive director of ACAP-Ohio in 2016.

Allison Stewart is the latest in a long line of ACAP leaders. Stewart, a second-year Master of Human Resource Management student at Fisher and an ODISS graduate assistant, is this year’s ACAP-Ohio executive director. She credits the success of the program to her predecessors.

2017 ACAP-Ohio Allison Stewart
Allison Stewart

“Edwin and Mariah have been so helpful,” she said. “They have provided so much support and always answer my questions. Overall, the ACAP program would not nearly be the same without them. The students rave about them. Without them, I am not sure if the students would have as great of an experience.”

It’s no coincidence that past ACAP participants have contributed to the sustained success of the program, said David Harrison, ODISS senior director.

“The principle of ‘paying forward’ is very much embodied by these former ACAP students and leaders,” Harrison said. “They recognize the incredible value that the program provides and want to help in any way possible to continue the incredible legacy and impact ACAP-Ohio has had on so many minority students.”

Scott (BSBA ’15, MAcc ’16) remembers how ACAP-Ohio changed the course of her educational experience.

“ACAP allowed me to see what career opportunities were out there and provided me with relationships to help me realize them,” she said. “I received my first internship at a Big Four company my freshman year by leveraging the relationship I made with a recruiter at ACAP.

“As an alumna of the program, I learned the importance of giving back. I saw people that looked like me who were successful in college and in their careers, and I knew it was possible. Now, I try to be that example for everyone that is walking in my footsteps.”

2017 ACAP-Ohio Mariah Scott
Mariah Scott presents an ACAP-Ohio participant with an award during the 2016 ACAP closing ceremony.

Jones said lessons from his ACAP experience come in handy every day.

“When I need to coordinate a team response to a project or a customer appreciation event, I know what it takes to do so,” he said. “When something doesn't work well, I know when to change course and how to rely on a team to get the job done. These are just a few of the ways I use what I've learned and experienced during my time in ACAP-Ohio to be successful.”

Said Scott: “The fact that former ACAP students are always eager to serve as leaders proves that the program is doing something right. It proves that the value that the program provides students extends way beyond the week of ACAP and that the alumni want to share their stories to help younger students following the same path.”

ACAP-Ohio is presented by The Ohio Society of CPAs, The Ohio CPA Foundation, the Columbus Chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants and Fisher’s (ODISS) in conjunction with the Department of Accounting and MIS.