Specially-selected Atlanta area high school students attend an event that inspires accounting careers with a volunteer panel and scholarships.

ATLANTA, GA, November 10, 2018 /24-7PressRelease/ — On October 26, 2018, The Georgia Society of CPAs (GSCPA) hosted the fourth annual Rising Professionals Program. The goal of the program is to inspire high school students to become certified public accountants (CPAs) and to expand each student’s knowledge of the accounting profession. The program was first organized by Smith & Howard and was known as SHARP (Smith & Howard Advancement for Rising Professionals).

Over 30 juniors and seniors from ten different high schools in the Atlanta Public School (APS) system, Northview High School, Roswell High School, Cedar Grove High School, and McEachern High School attended. Teachers and counselors from each high school selected students to apply, and a group of volunteers evaluated each application to determine which students met the required criteria to participate in the event.

Upon arrival, students were greeted by Christopher Mooney and Sarah Smith of Smith & Howard, PC. Throughout the day, students heard from accounting professionals in various industries and learned about the CPA profession. Barbara Evans, GSCPA past chair of the Board of Directors and current chair of the GSCPA Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, welcomed students, and Evelyn Rosier, T.O.P. Solutions Group, LLC, kicked off the event with an icebreaker game. According to Ms. Rosier, “The life of a CPA can be as dynamic as you desire. We are an integral part of the business community. We are no longer the ‘bean counters,’ we grow the beans.”

Jimmy Lee and Adrian Rivers of Bennett Thrasher PC, presented an informative session on the importance of networking and proper handshakes. Next, Katie Russell and Eric Neas from Aprio, spoke about their experiences in a session called “A Day in the Life.” Afterward, Abriel Davis, Caraustar Industries, Inc., and Alicia Wilson, Georgia Pacific, led the group in a team-building exercise called “Pins and Straws.” During this session, the students were assigned different roles to play. The leader was instructed to secretly use one of three management styles: dictator, laissez-faire or democratic. Each group worked together to build a structure using only newspaper, tape, drinking straws and straight pins.

After a networking lunch, a panel of accounting professionals enlightened the students with stories and words of advice. The group consisted of Phillip Buelterman, Aprio; Gina Miller, Bennett Thrasher PC; Jill Pitcher, Smith & Howard, PC; Brandi Samuel, Windham Brannon PC; and Josh Sanders, PwC. Barbara Evans served as the moderator.

Before the event, Paula Mooney, Savannah State University, and Evelyn Rosier, T.O.P. Solutions Group, scored each application based on their qualifying questions and essay questions. Throughout each session, the students were scored by Nikelle Klareich of Smith & Howard, PC and Khari Rosier-Robinson,Windham Brannon PC. At the end of the day, all scores were tallied, and as a result, eight students were awarded scholarships. Scholarship contributors included GSCPA (one $1,000 scholarship to a senior and one $500 scholarship to a junior), Smith & Howard – the Jim Howard Scholarships (one $1,000 scholarship to a senior and one $500 scholarship to a junior), Aprio ($1,000 to a junior or a senior), Bennett Thasher ($1,000 to a senior), GSCPA Diversity and Inclusion Task Force ($500 to a junior or senior), and The Educational Foundation of GSCPA ($500 to a senior). All monies will be mailed to each recipient.

For future events, GSCPA will be looking for volunteers as well as scholarship donations. If you or your firm would like to participate or donate, please contact Callie Hammond at [email protected] or 404-504-2953.

GSCPA is the premier professional organization for CPAs in the state of Georgia. With almost 14,000 members throughout the state, the purpose of GSCPA is to achieve excellence by providing superior advocacy, leadership, service, lifelong learning and personal and professional development opportunities. For more information, visit www.gscpa.org.

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