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AICPA’s Legacy Scholars Giving Back to their Communities

Thiswaytocpa_logo_webThe AICPA recently announced that undergraduate and graduate level accounting students may now apply online for scholarships for the 2014-2015 academic year.

In addition, the AICPA has created a new scholarship for students who have earned a finance-related associates degree and declared their intent to major in accounting at a four-year college or university. The AICPA Foundation Two-Year Transfer Scholarship will provide $1,000 to five qualified recipients.

The AICPA Foundation Two-Year Transfer Scholarship joins the AICPA/Accountemps Student Scholarship, AICPA John L. Carey Scholarship, and AICPA Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students to comprise the AICPA Legacy Scholars program.

For more than 40 years, the AICPA has provided accounting scholarships to help students pay for college. In 2011, the AICPA established the Legacy Scholars Program to offer these qualified scholarship recipients benefits beyond financial assistance. AICPA Legacy Scholars perform eight hours of community service per semester, honing professional skills such as leadership, public speaking, and project management.

Program participants are Student Affiliate Members of the AICPA, which is a free membership option available to all students who are enrolled in school at a two-year or four-year college or university. Each AICPA Legacy Scholar is assigned a coach who provides guidance on the student’s service project and serves as an advisor for questions related to the profession and the work environment.

The deadline to apply for the AICPA Legacy Scholars Program is April 1.

I sat down with Samantha Mitchell, who is involved in the day-to-day management of the AICPA Legacy Scholars Program, for details and insights about the application process and the benefits of the program.

James Schiavone: Why should students apply for the Program?

Samantha Mitchell: The AICPA Legacy Scholars Program offers the financial benefits of a scholarship and gives students a chance to develop professional skills such as networking, leadership and project planning that employers are looking for. They are also provided with a community of peers who provide them support and encouragement along the way and a professional coach who provides mentorship and guidance.

JS: What do the recipients of different scholarships have in common?

SM: These students are all highly motivated – they want to become successful CPAs. They are all very involved in their communities. While AICPA Legacy Scholars are a diverse group of students with different backgrounds – educational, ethnic and geographic –they all share a passion for accounting.

JS: What are some of the service projects that have stood out over the last few years?

SM: There are so many unique projects to choose from and all of them are impressive in their own right.

Last year, one of our AICPA Legacy Scholars conducted a seminar for young women on campus in conjunction with a campus organization. She was able to incorporate a strong accounting focus targeting freshman and sophomores. She coordinated speakers from local companies, refreshments and merchandise/handouts, with over 100 attendees. That really stood out for the planning that went into pulling the event off.

One of our scholars worked with his accounting club to help the local chapter of a non-profit dedicated to building homes for people in need.  The non-profit wasn’t sure how to appropriately price each house they were building to reflect materials and labor. The scholar led his accounting club in an effort to develop a cost system for some of their projects.  The local executive director commended them on a job well done. 

Another young woman, who was a recipient of the minority scholarship, gave presentations on accounting as a profession to local schools. What was so impressive was that English was not her first language and this was her first opportunity to present in English. The program empowered her to give these presentations and her experiences will serve her well when she is working and needs to make presentations to her future clients. This is a great example of how the service projects build skills that will be transferable to the workforce.

JS: Anything you would like to add?

SM: The AICPA Legacy Scholarships application process can be started online.

In addition to the AICPA Legacy Scholars program, there are a ton of great scholarship opportunities available at ThisWayToCPA.com/scholarshipsearch.

I would encourage all students interested in accounting to sign up for AICPA’s Student Affiliate Membership on ThisWayToCPA. It is totally free and provides information about taking the CPA exam, resume and job interview tips and useful information about transitioning from a student to a CPA.

, Media Relations Manager, American Institute of CPAs. 

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