2017 Minority Accounting Student Scholarship Essay

On May 4, 2017, the NC CPA Foundation Inc. will recognize the 2017 winner of the Minority Accounting Student scholarship at NCACPA’s Annual Business Meeting. This scholarship was established by the Diversity Action Committee and the NCACPA Board of Directors and is administered through the Foundation. This year’s winner is Nicole Ortega, a student at Meredith College in Raleigh.

Below is Nicole’s essay from her scholarship application. Congratulations, Nicole!

Describe one or two values/characteristics effective CPAs possess. Provide a recent example of when you have demonstrated these qualities.

It takes a lot for an individual to become a CPA; however, just because one has completed the test successfully, doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily going to be an effective CPA. There are many strong characteristics that all CPAs have in common—determined, hardworking, detail-oriented, etc.; however, I believe there are two specific characteristics that make the difference between any CPA and an effective CPA. In order to be an effective CPA, it’s critical for them to be positive and innovative.

According to CBS News, the number of suicides in the accounting profession are on the rise—up two spots to number 14 (CBS/AP). With this statistic, especially during busy season or when there’s an economic collapse, it’s critical for a CPA to keep a positive mindset. Positivity relates to being effective because in times of high stress, it can be easy for someone to quit altogether. I believe that in order to be effective, you have to not only help yourself, but help others around you. By having a positive attitude, you can do just this. Positivity is truly contagious and if you are able to motivate yourself, others will be motivated as well.

I feel that I exemplify positivity on a daily basis. Truly changing the way your mind thinks and being hopeful in every situation makes you happier overall, and I believe that choosing to be happy is effective in itself. Studies have shown that employees are more productive when they are happy (Addady). An example of when my positivity paid off was last semester. It was one of the toughest semesters for me because I was juggling 18 credit hours, working 20 hours a week as a staff accountant, and committed an additional 8 hours a week to participate in a campus tradition. Despite my hectic schedule, I managed to earn a 4.0 GPA. I firmly believe this outcome occurred because I always kept my head up and never contemplated a negative “what-if” scenario.

In addition to positivity, it’s important that a CPA be innovative in order to be effective. All CPAs have to abide by many rules and regulations in their profession, and with that, it’s easy for a CPA to get in the rhythm of doing things in a repetitive fashion. However, it takes another kind of CPA to take a step back and ask questions such as, “How can this be done more efficiently?” In my former accounting position at MedThink, Inc., I discovered there were several things the company could be doing more effectively and efficiently. In my role, which required handling accounts payable and the necessary vendor documents, I had to hand-pull a document from a filing cabinet, make a copy, and attach it to invoices. I questioned this process because using time wisely is very important to me. From here I thought it would make more sense to scan and upload the documents to an electronic file so we could print it directly from there. We would no longer have to pull files from a filing cabinet in order to make a copy. It was a big project to take on, but I established an electronic vendor maintenance system that is more efficient than the previous documentation process.

In conclusion, I can agree that CPAs are very intelligent individuals who have a countless number of desirable characteristics. However, in order to be an effective CPA, I believe it’s important to have a strong positive outlook and the ability to think innovatively in an environment where tasks may be somewhat routine. From my personal experience with balancing school and working as a staff accountant, I find that these two qualities have proven to be important and highly recommend every CPA strive to be positive and innovative whenever possible.

Works Cited

Addady, Michal. “Study: Being Happy at Work Really Makes You More Productive.” Fortune.

Fortune, 29 Oct. 2015. Web. 09 Feb. 2017. <http://fortune.com/2015/10/29/happy


CBS/AP. “These Jobs Have the Highest Rate of Suicide.” CBS News. CBS Interactive, 30 June

Web. 09 Feb. 2017. <http://www.cbsnews.com/news/these-jobs-have-the-highest