Students envision their accounting success stories at ACLA

By Jennifer Rieman, CAE, manager, public relations

ACLA17One bit of advice from OSCPA President and CEO Scott Wiley, CAE, summed up the theme of the Accounting Careers Leadership Academy (ACLA) program last week.

“Know and boldly tell your story,” Wiley advised the 35 accounting majors of color from colleges and universities across Ohio. “People who can articulate their story in this profession — they win. They have more opportunities.”

Leaders in the profession in both public accounting and industry, and educators and recruiters, offered many accounting success stories over the two-day event. Experts shared tips on building a personal brand and dressing for success, to crafting an impactful resume and preparing for the CPA exam.

“ACLA doesn’t tell you what to do, but the speakers tell you what they did and their background,” said Kayla Keys, rising junior at the University of Akron. “It helps you figure out for yourself what you want because you have all of the information behind it.”

The students asked tough questions of panelists, on everything from discrimination in the workplace to balancing the demands of career and life outside of work.

Janice Guo, CPA, assurance senior at GBQ Partners, LLC took it in stride, explaining that she sees her ethnicity as a benefit.

“Take it as an opportunity to educate people about your culture,” she said. “Diversity is all about bringing new ideas.”

Many speakers and panelists emphasized the variety of options the accounting profession offers, and the value of earning the CPA credential. Several students said they left the event with changed minds about sitting for the exam.

“Coming to ACLA has pushed me to the other side to get my CPA,” said Jordan Nichols, rising senior at Franklin University. “Before I was just focused on finishing my bachelor’s, but now I think if you want to pursue accounting, having your CPA is the way to go.”

Together, The Ohio Society of CPAs and The Ohio CPA Foundation are executing a multi-year plan to build Ohio’s future accounting workforce. Programs such as ACLA, ACAP-Ohio, the Student Ambassador Program and High School Accounting Career Days are integral pieces to the plan that includes changing the CPA narrative, defining Ohio’s pipeline and supporting students on the journey to the CPA credential.

Students like Lu Jiang, an accounting master’s candidate at Case Western Reserve University, and an ACLA attendee for the second year in a row, are prime examples of the impact the Society and the Foundation are making. A self-described veteran of various leadership programs, Jiang describes ACLA as “the best” of the bunch.

“This event provides so many resources and the opportunity to meet so many people,” Jiang said. “It really helps us figure out what our passion is, and how to be a better person and strive in our careers. It’s a great opportunity for all accounting students.”

A gift to The Ohio CPA Foundation’s Annual Fund Campaign will directly support pipeline initiatives such as ACLA that support students on the path to the CPA profession. To learn more or to contribute, visit

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