As director of a Fisher program designed to engage underrepresented minority students interested in the field of accounting, Cynthia W. Turner wanted to present graduating seniors who had successfully completed the program with more than a plaque or certificate.

Knowing that success in business is equal parts knowledge and confidence, Tuner instead rewarded four students with something they could use as professionals — new business suits. Thanks to funding provided by KPMG, Turner took the students to get fitted for and to purchase professional clothing that complemented the valuable skills they learned at Fisher.

”It was a wonderful experience because it was the perfect culmination to my college career in accounting,” said Amari Dryden (BSBA ’18), a Project THRIVE graduate who will join EY’s Assurance practice in Columbus. “Dr. Turner has helped prepare me mentally for the accounting industry and now she’s prepared me physically too. The business suit is the armor I need to be taken seriously in public accounting.”

Cynthia Turner - THRIVE student
Dr. Cynthia Turner, left, and
Amari Dryden (BSBA '18)

Turner, the EY Faculty Fellow and a senior lecturer in Fisher’s Department of Accounting and MIS, was recently recognized for her commitment to these students and to diversity initiatives across Fisher, as she received an Ohio State University Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Award.

Presented annually by Ohio State’s Office of Human Resources, the award celebrates members of the Ohio State community who are shaping the university through cutting-edge curriculum, mentorship, new programs or policy impacts that are making diversity and inclusiveness a part of its best practices by changing daily operations, program components or cultural awareness.

“I was humbled and honored to receive such an outstanding award,” Turner said. “Diversity matters because it enhances innovation and performance on every level of society. Working with underrepresented students is so important to me because I fully believe in the philosophy of lifting as I climb.

“Because someone saw my potential when I was once in these students’ shoes, the most rewarding way I know to express my gratitude and make a transformational impact is to invest in the potential genius of students whose journeys have been similar to mine.”

Turner, the first African American woman to earn a PhD degree in accounting from The Ohio State University, leads a number of diversity initiatives at Fisher, including Project THRIVE. The program is a community of minority and underrepresented accounting and MIS students that is equipped to succeed at Fisher and beyond. The initiative combines classroom curriculum with co-curricular opportunities and provides scholarships to underrepresented minority accounting students.

“I felt at home with my Project THRIVE peers because of our similarities — we were all accounting majors and people of color — but also in our differences, because we all have different goals in life,” Dryden said. “It’s a space within Ohio State and Fisher specifically where people of color can be their authentic selves.”

The Diversity Enhancement Award was a fitting honor for Turner, who has provided so much to Project THRIVE students, said department chair Brian Mittendorf.

“In addition to serving as a reflection of Cynthia’s tireless efforts to support diversity across the university, this award also speaks to the notable impact she has had on her students and colleagues in Fisher’s Department of Accounting and MIS. It is great to see someone so deserving get recognized in this way for the hard work and dedication she has demonstrated in shaping the futures of so many accounting and business leaders.”

Cynthia Turner Asst. Dean and Chief Diversity Officer, EY Faculty Fellow
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