The accounting profession has a diversity issue. But instead of worrying about it, Cynthia Turner, Ph.D., created an initiative to combat the problem.
“Project Thrive is a diversity initiative for underrepresented minorities in the accounting and MIS department,” The Ohio State University lecturer said. “It’s designed to attract and retain these students and help them thrive in our department and beyond.”
Turner’s initiative has done so well that she received the Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Award from the university for the success of Project Thrive. Unbeknownst to Turner, her department had nominated her for the award and finding out she had been selected was quite the surprise.
“It’s an encouragement to know my department thought what I was doing was worthwhile,” she said.
Turner has been at Ohio State since 2013 and also has been actively involved in The Ohio CPA Foundation’s ACAP program, which offers high school students the chance to explore careers in accounting and business while spending a week on the OSU campus. She said she created Project Thrive based off her own experiences in the profession.
“It’s an initiative that I hope to continue to grow,” Turner said. “It’s multi-faceted, and we have all of the big four accounting firms that support it financially along with other companies. It involves scholarships, mentoring and networking and started out with about 18 students and has grown to nearly 40. Ultimately I hope to continue to see it grow not only just in size but also in enriching experiences for the students that are participants.”
Turner said she considers the recognition to be “probably one of the greatest, most rewarding experiences in my career.” She even received recognition at an OSU football game against Tulane on Sept. 22, but was unable to attend.
“My son plays college football and he had a game that day in Chicago at Soldier Field, and mom duties trumped,” she said.
Although Turner couldn’t attend the Buckeye game, she did receive formal recognition in the spring when the university held a lunch for the awardees.
“It was a great feeling and I’m just getting started,” Turner said. “I’m looking forward to how the program will grow, because there are so many young men and women who are deserving of a wonderful experience and the opportunity to have an incredible career.”