A pairing of a Scholars student and an INCPAS member becomes meaningful in unexpected ways.
In the fall of 2017, INCPAS member David Lane, CPA, and Emanuel Fonville, then a junior at Ben Davis University High School, were paired together as mentor/mentee in the INCPAS Scholars program. The two developed a lasting relationship that set Fonville up for success as he decided what to major in and where to go to college.
Now a senior in high school, Fonville has the unique opportunity of pursuing a general studies major in business. Not only will he graduate in May 2019 with a high school diploma, but he will also receive an associate’s degree through a partnership with Ben Davis University High School and Vincennes University.
Fonville was interested in accounting throughout high school as he was good in math and his teachers encouraged him to take more accounting classes. By participating in the Scholars program, he realized how much he liked the CPA profession. It also gave him a chance to network and meet more people.
Fonville plans to double major in accounting and finance. After he has gained work experience (in public accounting as an auditor) he is interested in going back to college for a second double major in photography and management, with the intention of starting his own business. He ultimately wants to be an entrepreneur.
A senior manager at EY, Lane grew up in urban Indianapolis and graduated from Northwest High School.
“My high school graduation rate was around 55 percent. The number of classmates who went on to college was even smaller,” he said.
The oldest of five siblings, Lane was the first in his family to go to college. Lane remembered what it was like to figure out how scholarships work, how financial aid works, how to choose a major, and whether he should go to a big school or a small school.
“Trying to navigate through the process alone was challenging,” Lane said. That is one reason he chose to participate in the Scholars mentor program.
Lane attended IUPUI’s Kelly School of Business and graduated in 2010 with an accounting and finance double major and a minor in economics. He completed internships in college and started full time at EY in 2011 where he has worked since.
BUILDING A FOUNDATION
The Scholars Dress & Dine event at the Fashion Mall provided one of the first opportunities to spend time together. The Scholars were fitted for dress pants and after the program was over, Fonville and Lane went to the food court on their own. They talked for an hour and learned more about each other. Lane remembered Fonville taking out his accounting book so they could work on some accounting problems together.
“I was impressed that he knew about debits and credits and other accounting lingo as a junior in high school,” Lane commented.
They talked about Fonville’s family and interests too.
Once the trust is built, the experiences you share will have a bigger impact.
“Being authentic during that hour of time together took us pretty far,” Lane noted.
The two soon began to feel more comfortable around each other.
The structure of the Scholars program, with regular, organized events, and the requirement that mentors and mentees meet once a month, helped Fonville and Lane build a foundation for their relationship. But they also chose to meet outside the program to get to know each other better.
Shortly after the Dress and Dine event, a family friend of Lane’s gave him two tickets to an Indianapolis Colts football game. Lane asked Fonville if he would like to go to the game with him. It was something fun to do together and was outside of the structured environment of the Scholars program. Lane fondly remembers that day. They started it at the Scholars holiday party at the Indiana CPA Society’s office.
“We played a game where we had to put an Oreo on our forehead and try to eat it without using our hands,” Lane said. “Once you see your mentor/mentee doing that, as everyone around you laughs and has fun, it brings everyone’s guards down. That same day, we went to the Colts game. It was an awesome day.”
When Lane learned Fonville had scheduled a campus tour at IUPUI, he surprised him by showing up the day of the tour. He walked around campus with Fonville, his father and his younger brother. Since Lane was an alumnus, he expanded on the things he experienced there, in addition to what the tour guide contributed. Sharing his experiences with Fonville further instilled a level of trust and connection between the two.
Fonville’s father played a key role in their mentorship by encouraging and motivating Fonville.
“It’s a similar situation to mine where Emanuel will be a first-generation college student,” Lane said. “His father is very engaged with Emanuel’s progress and wants him to succeed. He wants him to go to college fairs, do campus tours and apply for scholarships. It helps that he supports Emanuel too.”
THE BENEFITS OF MENTORSHIP
When Fonville first heard he would have a mentor as part of the Scholars program, he thought he would ask Lane a few questions here and there, but he soon learned the experience would be more valuable. The two quickly developed a friendship.
“It isn’t just a mentor/Scholar relationship,” Fonville explained. “I’ve gotten a lot more out of it and David has helped me so much.
Lane has shared his experiences as well as tips on applying to colleges (especially IUPUI) with Fonville.
It isn't just a mentor/Scholar relationship. I've gotten a lot more out of it and David has helped me so much.
Fonville also asked Lane many questions outside of the CPA profession. He thought back to a few days ago when he texted Lane with questions about cars.
“He has helped me grow as a person,” he shared.
Through working with his Scholar, Lane remembered what it was like to go through similar challenges to Fonville’s and gave him suggestions based on his own experiences. He told Fonville how important it was to stay organized as he completed scholarship applications, and when to apply for SAT/ACT testing.
Lane noted he learned it was important to build a relationship right away — it’s hard to give advice and tell a student to do something if you don’t know each other. Once the trust is built, the experiences you share will have a bigger impact.
ADVICE FOR FUTURE SCHOLARS AND MENTORS
When asked to share his best advice for success for current and future students enrolled in the Scholars program, Fonville stated the best thing they can do is to put themselves out there and not be shy — use this special opportunity to their advantage.
“Be ready for anything and ask questions,” Fonville said. “There is always something you can learn from your mentor.”
In turn, Lane had some advice of his own to share with those interested in becoming INCPAS Scholars program mentors.
“It’s important for those in the profession to give back. It’s not a huge time commitment, but you need to focus on it and make it a priority,” Lane said.
It’s important for those in the profession to give back.
Prioritizing the Scholar builds trust and the relationship grows. Lane stressed the importance of being authentic and vulnerable because then the student trusts you and will open up.
“Sometimes we take for granted what we as CPA professionals have been through and we don’t realize how much help we can give to students,” Lane said. “You’ve been through the college journey and all of these high school students want to pursue college goals. They want to be able to talk to somebody about the process and you can help.”
A RELATIONSHIP BUILT TO LAST
When asked whether they plan to continue to their relationship, they both responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!”
“I will definitely keep the relationship going no matter what,” Fonville said. “Although this was an accounting-related program with the Indiana CPA Society, it also helped me grow as a person. It’s not like I will throw it away now that the program is done.”
Fonville and Lane both agreed it was nice to have someone else to ask for advice and give support other than a parent, guardian or teacher.
“Just last month I texted Emanuel to see if he had gotten his SAT scores back,” Lane said. “We will definitely continue our relationship, especially as he starts the application process for both colleges and scholarships. He knows to reach out to me, I reach out to him, and we definitely plan to stay in touch.”
ABOUT INCPAS SCHOLARS
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. Support the Scholars.