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Day in the Life of Promoting the Awesome CPA Profession

Jun 15, 2018

Ali Paul, CAE, INCPAS Director - Diversity & Outreach and INCPAS Scholars Manager


The INCPAS Scholars program is a year-long career awareness and mentoring program about the CPA profession. Participants are high-potential minority high school students in the Indianapolis and South Bend area who participate in monthly events such as tours of CPA firms, business/industry and college campuses. Here is my inside look at a campus visit for the Indy Scholars in town during their Spring Break week, which included a killer agenda, some surprise visitors and – as always – Chick-fil-A.

Ali Paul & Nailah Owens-Johnson


7:30 a.m. Eighteen of 23 Indy Scholars carb-load with Einstein Bagels and energize with coffee at INCPAS. I do a headcount to make sure everyone is present before departure. This is the first of many headcounts I’ll do today.

8:15 a.m. Take Carey shuttle bus to IU. Scholars chat with each other, listen to music or podcasts on their phones, and nap. One Scholar who finished his senior year a full semester early is reading “The Richest Man Who Ever Lived.”

9:45 a.m. Arrive at IU Kelley School of Business; huff and puff up three flights to the classroom. Since the Scholars program began, IU has hosted our group nearly every year (except for a freak ice storm that cancelled our trip a few years ago). This is such an important day for the Scholars. Many are making college choices and spending a day on campus really allows them to picture what life would be like as an accounting major.

This is such an important day for the Scholars. Many are making college choices, and spending a day on campus really allows them to picture what life would be like as an accounting major.
10 a.m. Patrick Hopkins, CPA, welcomes the Scholars. He is the chair of the graduate accounting program (GAP) and encourages pursuing the masters in accounting program as a means to build extra, portable skills. He talks up the new Career Center and placement rates for internships and jobs, and encourages the Scholars to reach out to him directly with questions. Funny enough, right after he brings back a big stack of business cards for the Scholars, a former Scholar who plans to attend IU next fall sees my Instastory (@incpas_scholars) and mentions how she just met with Pat and remembered him from her Scholars visit to IU.

10:15 a.m. Quick visit from a former Scholar, Kushboo. She can’t stay for long but wanted to say hi before she headed to Texas for the National Raas Dance Competition.

10:30 a.m. Indiana University Outdoor Adventures’ graduate student Sam Iatarola gets Scholars up and out of their seats to work on team building and communication activities. There is a lot laughter while they try to:

• Organize themselves in chronological order of birthday without speaking.
• Get off the bus” by going to the left or right when asked certain questions about
their preferences, such as early bird or night owl, inside or outside, peanut butter
or jelly, Facebook or Twitter, and IU or Purdue.
• Work together in pairs to untangle themselves from their rope handcuffs, then teach other people how to until everyone is free.
• Share what makes them unique or similar by playing “A great wind blows for those who [insert personal fact].”
• Lightning-round small talk during the Rock, Paper, Scissors Olympics.

Day in the Life - INCPAS Scholars at IUAt the end, Sam asks them what they’ve learned about team building. Answers include how they need to work together to overcome obstacles, cheer each other on even if they “lose,” learn new methods and see what does or doesn’t work, and adapt to diversity of personality.

11:15 a.m. Quick chat with INCPAS Scholars Alumni Ambassador, Nailah Owens-Johnson, about her Spring Break and plans for the summer. She’ll be interning with EY in the Chicago office! Nailah must get ready for the panel discussion, where she’s going to talk about her Kelley experience with the Scholars once they are finished tapping into their teamwork skills.

11:30 a.m. Four accounting students in the Kelley School of Business come for a Q&A about their experiences and opportunities at IU. Brennan Adkins, Cameron Bails, Darion Harris and Nailah talk about managing time, setting priorities, picking classes, balancing school and a part-time job, securing scholarships and financial aid, prepping for internships, getting a good mentor, study tips, and joining business fraternities and clubs on campus. Scholars are particularly interested in the study abroad opportunities, which for this panel include Italy, South Africa and Cuba.

NOON. Chick-fil-A arrives! The lunchtime feast includes chicken nuggets with crazy amounts of dipping sauce, salad, fruit, chips and cookies. Nothing is leftover. These Scholars love Chick-fil-A.

INCPAS Scholar alum12:15 p.m. Vivian Winston, senior lecturer of accounting, shares what to expect in their freshman-year A100 Intro to Accounting class. In addition to keeping up with each class (building block to learning) and not relying on memory, she advises them to introduce themselves to her and her teaching assistants, visit during office hours and get to know their classmates.

12:30 p.m. Quick visit from a former Scholar, Neil Shah. We catch up on how he is doing. His brother Kushal is also a program graduate and is in the process of applying to PhD programs. Neil is on a break from competing in a KPMG Case Competition. It’s awesome to see our Scholars thriving in college. He’ll be heading to San Francisco this summer to intern with Salesforce.

12:45 p.m. Brittani Wilson, director of diversity initiatives and volunteer on the INCPAS Diversity Advisory Council, talks about getting an undergraduate degree and I-CORE curriculum designed to give a view of business in its entirety. She talks about additional resources for support and networks, such as the Kelley Living Learning Center (KLLC) for freshmen majoring in business. Scholars are given logoed IU water bottles as a parting gift. IU swag is always awesome. I still use a Kelley School of Business pen that emeritus professor of accounting Mike Tiller gave us years ago.

IU Kelley School of Business accounting student panelists1:30 p.m. Walk across campus to tour the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, which features art exhibits, a student lounge, library, art room, dance studio, vocal/choreography studio and more. Scholars are encouraged to attend one of their midday “House Parties” the second Wednesday of each month to get to know other

2:30 p.m. I count everyone again to make sure all 18 Scholars are present and accounted for before the bus ride back to INCPAS. They are excited about college and majoring in accounting. The campus visit is a success!

INCPAS Scholars is an award-winning, free program that encourages students to consider becoming a CPA. The only program of its kind, INCPAS Scholars introduces students to the profession by pairing them with practicing CPAs, touring CPA firms and businesses that employ CPAs, and participating in events to immerse them in the profession.


INCPAS Scholars 


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About the Author

 Ali Paul, CAE, is the INCPAS Director - Diversity & Outreach. She oversees all diversity and student initiatives, including the award-winning INCPAS Scholars program and Game On: CPAs in Action career awareness event for minority high school students.