Accounting Careers Awareness Program

For 23 years the Accounting Careers Awareness Program (ACAP-Ohio) has equipped minority high school students from throughout the state with experiences to help them become impactful leaders in accounting and business.

ACAP-Ohio began in 1995 at Otterbein University before moving to The Ohio State University two years later. Despite the name, the program focuses on much more than accounting.

“These 42 students were chosen from a pool of more than 100 applicants to spend a week away from work, extracurricular activities, family and friends to learn more about accounting, business and skills such as business analysis, networking and dining etiquette that they can use regardless of their path in life,” said Edwin Jones, an ACAP-Ohio planning committee member.

Jones (BSBA ’08, MBA ’15) works as a client representative at IBM and is a former graduate of ACAP-Ohio. He now serves as a volunteer. This is the 12th time he’s been involved in the program, including his time as a student.

“I never thought I would have the opportunity to give back and impact as many students as I have over the years — nearly 400,” he said. “It continues to be a humbling experience.”

ACAP-Ohio featured a variety of workshops, lectures and more from Ohio State faculty and working professionals. This included a panel of local entrepreneurs who shared their experiences with students: Elijah Bowie, owner of Peak Fitness; Chimdi Chekwa (BSBA ’10), co-owner of The Pit BBQ Grille; Candice Hayes-McInnis (BSBA ’14, MAcc ’15), founder and CEO of PROVIDOM, a non-profit organization that focuses on financial literary education; and Donald Wells, president of Wells, CPA LLC.

Chekwa is a former Ohio State defensive back who played for the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins. As he was winding down his football career, he co-founded his Columbus-based restaurant. He spoke about basic business principles — reducing staff during slow periods and needing to assume basic duties, including cooking and other daily maintenance — that have helped him succeed. The athlete-turned-entrepreneur shared how he went from being an NFL player to cleaning bathrooms, but he did what was needed for the sake of his business.

Other panel topics included tips on how to avoid overthinking things to the point of stagnation (“analysis paralysis”), the importance of having a basic knowledge of every aspect of business and failing quickly in order to move on from mistakes.

The overall program proved impactful for students. Deysha Tolliver, who graduated from Cleveland Central Catholic High School, completed the 2018 ACAP program and will be attending The Ohio State University in the fall of 2018.

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Cynthia Turner, the EY Faculty Fellow and a senior lecturer at Fisher, leads an Accounting 101 class.

“It helped me with my public speaking and being open and confident in who I am, and it showed me that I am able to be a leader,” she said.

Tolliver isn’t the only member of ACAP-Ohio’s 2018 class who will be attending Ohio State. Julian Slate, Dierre Blash and Nidhi Patel have all been accepted.

Charles Cox, who will be a senior at New Albany High School in the fall of 2018, expressed how the program made an impact on him.

“It helped me overcome my personal fear of being in front and being a leader,” he said.

Dayna Shoulders, who will be a senior at Bishop Hartley High School in the fall of 2018, said ACAP-Ohio taught her how to better the world using accounting. She also enjoyed the support the students showed toward each other.

“In a place where all of us are minorities, we got to be ourselves,” she said. “We got to talk about things that bothered us, issues that were troubling us, and we came together. The biggest thing I was happy about was that I was able to put myself out there.”

Students also heard from Eric Troy, program director of the Keith B. Key Social Entrepreneurship Program in the Office of Student Life. He spoke passionately about global leadership and related to students through topics like friendships, dating and social media.

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Eric Troy, program director of the Keith B. Key Social Entrepreneurship Program in the Office of Student Life, poses with ACAP-Ohio participants.

Troy told the students they were at ACAP-Ohio because they had demonstrated how to be “great thinkers.”

“Not because you wrote a great essay. Not because you got good grades. That’s standard. You’re here because you dared to be different,” he said.

The week-long program featured a variety of other speakers and events, including classroom sessions led by Fisher faculty, a case study, a résumé workshop, a presentation on improving interviewing skills, lessons on ethics, a discussion about navigating college, admissions and scholarships, and a special awards and scholarship banquet.

The awarding sponsors were White Castle ($500), RSM ($500), EY ($500), KPMG ($500), Plante Moran ($500), Crowe ($500), PwC ($500), JP Morgan Chase ($500), Schneider Downs ($500), Cardinal Health ($500), Deloitte ($1,000) and Fisher College of Business (two $500 scholarships).

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Fisher's David Harrison presents Nidhi Patel and Deysha Tolliver with scholarships.

David Harrison, senior director of Fisher’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion Student Services (OD&ISS), said family members are very grateful after discovering their students can attend the program for free, which would normally cost between $1,200 and $1,600.

“I’m excited to say that for many more years we hope to host this program on our campus because we do believe it’s a win-win opportunity,” he said.

ACAP-Ohio is presented by the Ohio Society of CPAs, the Ohio CPA Foundation, the Columbus Professional Chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) and hosted by Fisher College of Business.