Future Ready | Leadership / Management | Talent

Five years of Student Leadership Academy. Five years of life-changing experiences

It has been a bit since the MACPA’s Student Leadership Academy was held May 30 to June 1 at Goucher University, but my complete state of awe remains. Hands-down, this event continues to be my favorite event annually because of the stellar caliber of the attendees and the realization that with these individuals joining the profession, we are in good hands.

This year marked the program’s fifth year, and I couldn’t be more proud to say we were able to transform the lives of 28 students from 16 different schools yet again.

The program was chocked full of leadership training in which students were immersed in topics such as professional communications, mastering the art of feedback, CPA exam information, and becoming future-ready with MACPA President and CEO Tom Hood. The students were also a bit star-struck when former MACPA and AICPA Chair Kimberly Ellison Taylor, CPA, CGMA, addressed them prior to the start of dinner. The students didn’t have a shortage of questions for her, which continued well after the night’s social.

Attendees also were able to see what their future could look like first-hand through organization visits at CliftonLarsonAllen LLP and McCormick & Company. This is always a fan favorite and definitely an agenda item we would like to expand next year.

The program also included panels and sessions in which attendees were able to interact with employers, hear success stories, learn more about the Student Leadership alums’ professional journeys, and even an optional add-on session at the end in which attendees and others interested could take an exam simulation, hosted by Surgent CPA Review.

I often think about how you measure true success of a program, and this one is easy. Anytime you have seven Student Leadership Academy alums sign up to either help or be a part of planning, you have something great on your hands.

Another measure is all the awesome feedback we received from this year’s attendees. That feedback included the following:

  • “This was one of the most motivating experiences I've ever had.”
  • “The Student Leadership Academy was an amazing opportunity that helped me  gain a greater sense of confidence and improve my communication skills. In addition, the Student Leadership Academy enabled me to build valuable relationships and learn from others’ experiences and advice. I would strongly recommend any students considering a career in accounting to attend this event!”
  • “This experience has given me even more respect for everyone in this profession and has motivated to keep fighting to get to where I want in life.”
  • “The program brings people from all different backgrounds together to learn about the accounting industry and how to become an innovator and grow your accounting career.”
  • “We got to be so near to accounting professionals and hear their stories. It is not just about the valuable information we get from the professionals but also how they inspire and boost our confidence. We get our curiosities answered on the spot and also get to hear the perspective from professionals and different talented students around us.”

The final measure is the overwhelming support of firms and organizations. We had nine sponsors who not only realize the value of the program, they recognize the value of the attendees, with many of them going on to hire someone they met there. We can’t do it without their support and look forward to even more involvement from organizations in the future. Thank you this year’s sponsors, who are the driving force in making the Student Leadership Academy a success.

  • CliftonLarsonAllen LLP
  • E&Y
  • Garbelman Winslow CPAs
  • Lanigan, Ryan, Malcolm & Doyle, P.C.
  • SB & Company
  • Stoy, Malone & Company, P.C.
  • Surgent
  • Tonneson + Co.
  • Vardavas & Concannon, P.A.
  • Yaeger CPA Review

So how can you be a part of Student Leadership Academy 2020?

  • Students: Mark your calendar for May 28-30, 2020. You can apply today! It is never too early to start planning.
  • Organizations: Mark your calendars. Sponsor. Consider an organization visit. Tell your interns. Express interest in being on a panel or part of the program by e-mailing me.
  • Educators: Tell your students about the program and urge them to apply early.
  • Alumni: Make sure you spread the word and urge your peers to apply and let us know if you would like to come back in 2020 to tell your story!
  • All: Check out this amazing video and you will know just how life-changing this program really is!



Rebekah Olson