The Crusader Newspaper Group

Career as a CPA explored by high school students

By Crystal Lynn, Gary Crusader

Nearly 110 students from seven Northwest Indiana high schools attended the Indiana CPA Society’s “Game On: CPAs in Action” at Purdue University

Northwest’s campus in Hammond, on Wednesday, May 10. The Indiana CPA Society, based in Indianapolis, is the statewide professional association for Certified Public Accountants in Indiana.

“Game On” is an award-winning, free, half-day career awareness program for minority high school students interested in accounting. It is the only program of its kind for any state CPA society in the country, and is designed to help increase awareness of – and diversity in – the profession.

The event started in Indianapolis in 2008, and has since expanded to South Bend and Fort Wayne, and added Northwest Indiana for the first time last year. Forty-six students attended the inaugural event, more than doubling to 110 this year.

“Game On” features a variety of interactive sessions and activities to give the students a unique perspective on what the accounting profession is about, what CPAs do on a daily basis, and what the work environment is like for a CPA. It includes a broad overview of the profession, a panel discussion featuring young accounting professionals and interactive case studies.

The morning panel consisted of three CPAs from the region: Cortez Arnold, Maoris Green and Charles Johnson. These individuals who are at different stages of their careers, gave the students insightful information on the profession. The students were very engaged, asking questions about salary, certification requirements, and even work/life balance.

According to Green, it all depended on the individual’s level of dedication and personal goals. The panelists emphasized that the profession is always in high demand and could be viable in every industry from sports teams to Fortune 500 companies.

Cortez Arnold, staff accountant for McMahon & Associates, is a graduate of Purdue North Central. As a first-generation college graduate of his family, he spoke on the power of networking and how that set him up for a successful start to his career.

Maoris Green from Whittaker & Company, gave the students insight of how she landed in this career choice. Her first major at IU Northwest was not in accounting but the support and input from her brother and father steered her to become a CPA. “Apply yourself, be resourceful, shadow someone to see if this is for you,” Green said. While it took her 10 years to pass the certification exam she explained how valuable that step was for her.

Charles Johnson, Managing Principal for Engaging Solutions, spoke from decades of experience in the field. Working as a CPA, he has been able to travel the world. He encouraged the students to take advantage of internships and to work hard.

The high school students were able to tour the Purdue Northwest campus and later sat with a panel of current accounting students. Questions included what classes to take, can you balance the accounting major with sports, how good in math do you have to be to be successful in this field? Questions from the students were endless, but it showed interest and enthusiasm for a field that is still in high demand.

Nearly 8,100 CPAs in public practice, business and industry, government and education are members of the Indiana CPA Society. INCPAS is the most trusted business resource and advocate in Indiana. Its members are required to abide by the accounting profession’s code of conduct. INCPAS members also receive access to quality educational programs and peer networking for knowledge sharing. Society members are trusted advisors to Indiana’s business community. INCPAS celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2015. For more information, visit

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