New Book Inspires Us All to Work Toward More Diversity

by Ralph Albert Thomas, CPA (DC), CGMA, CEO and executive director, NJCPA | February 11, 2021
When I Grow Up Book

“Accountants are fun.” That’s how Dr. Adrian L. Mayse, CPA, chair and associate professor in the Department of Accounting at Howard University and fellow member of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), starts out his book, When I Grow Up I Want to Be … An Accountant.

How true that sentiment is. After all, it’s a creative and colorful children’s book that encourages students — especially minority children — and their families to discover the world of accounting.

As I leafed through the book’s vibrant illustrations, I imagined myself encircled by a group of first or second grade students, sharing with them the enthusiasm that I felt when I embarked on my CPA journey. When I Grow Up I Want to Be … An Accountant reveals to children that accountants work almost everywhere — sports, movies, the arts, even schools — and anyone can be an accountant, no matter your race or gender. “Accountants look like me. They look like you,” the book encourages. One page even includes space to place a photo so the reader can see themselves as an accountant.

I applaud Dr. Mayse for addressing the challenges associated with attracting minorities into the CPA profession. Even though accounting has been consistently ranked as one of the leading majors for students, minority students are still not considering it a viable option, tending to opt for other majors or professions where they see more diversity.

But there is some good news. Mentoring programs — an effort that I’m a big believer in — are tremendously successful in nurturing the next generation of accounting graduates. Seventy-eight percent of black accounting professionals said that their career had benefited from a fruitful mentoring relationship in their current work environment in a recent Howard University survey.

Mayse ends the book by urging students to “Keep studying and learning.” A simple message that even we seasoned professionals should take to heart. The book also includes a foreword from Frank K. Ross, CPA, MBA, one of the founders and the first president of NABA and the current director for the Center for Accounting Education at Howard University.


Ralph Albert Thomas

Ralph Albert Thomas

Ralph Albert Thomas, CPA (DC), CGMA, is the CEO and executive director of the New Jersey Society of CPAs. He was appointed by New Jersey Senate President Sweeney to the New Jersey Economic and Fiscal Policy Working Group in 2018. He was also previously appointed to the AICPA Foundation Board and the inaugural AICPA National Commission on Diversity and Inclusion. Ralph is a lifetime member and former national and chapter president of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), was appointed chair of the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy’s (NASBA) State Society Relations Committee, and is a member of the accounting advisory boards of Lehigh, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Montclair State, Felician, Thomas Edison universities and Middlesex County College. He can be reached at rthomas@njcpa.org.

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