Long Island City, NY—January 24, 2014—LaGuardia Community College and Accenture celebrated the first graduating class from the Accenture Skills to Bookkeeping Scholarship Program. The program provides English language instruction and training in a top accounting software package to low income, non-native English speakers who have experience in bookkeeping or accounting in their home countries.
Twenty-one students from Albania, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Morocco, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Russia and Uzbekistan participated in the inaugural session of this collaborative workforce initiative, which was launched in October.
The program is part of Accenture’s corporate citizenship initiative, Skills to Succeed, which plans to equip 500,000 people around the world by 2015 with the skills to get a job or build a business. Students received a $760 scholarship for the 10-week program, which included 56 hours of training in foremost accounting software QuickBooks and 17 hours of English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction.
“With improved English skills and up to date accounting and bookkeeping skills, these graduates, who come from around the globe and enjoyed successful careers in their native countries, have a much greater chance of beginning meaningful careers here and contributing to the local economy,” Dr. Gail O. Mellow, president of LaGuardia, said to the audience that attended the January 10th event. “LaGuardia’s ESL and training expertise combined with Accenture’s commitment to skills training make for a great team. We hope that many more students will benefit from this innovative program.”
In her remarks, Amy Tsui Luke, managing director of Accenture and executive director of the scholarship program, echoed the sentiment. “Accenture and LaGuardia share a commitment to providing people with the skills to find employment and to make a significant, lasting impact on the long-term vitality of immigrant job seekers and their families,” she said. “Through initiatives like the Skills to Bookkeeping Scholarship Program, Accenture is actively involved in making a substantive, meaningful and sustainable difference in the lives of individuals, families and communities around the world and right here in New York City.”
The language classes centered around concepts in accounting and bookkeeping that allowed students to make a practical connection between the academics of learning English and the hands-on training portion of the course. Support services, such as resume and job search skills development, were also offered. And as part of the course, students participated in a networking event with Accenture employees, who volunteered their time and advice. With the ultimate goal of employment, the college will continue to work with students after graduation on job placement.
Speaking on behalf of his classmates, Freddy Aguilar, an experienced account manager from Ecuador, thanked LaGuardia, Accenture and the instructors for helping them learn the bookkeeping software, enhance their vocabulary and sharpen their job skills.
“Our class was full of accomplished professionals in finance and accounting from different countries, but we needed that extra help to get our careers on track in our new home,” he said. “We are so fortunate this program exists, because most of the time this is all it takes to push somebody to the next level. This program gave us the opportunity to obtain a certification that will help us get a better job in our field.”
He also added a personal note. “This program has backed up all my years of experience interpreting financial statements and making decisions based on accountant reports,” he said. “Without this incredible partnership between Accenture and LaGuardia, this would have been much more difficult to achieve.”
“The program opened up new possibilities for me as well as for my classmates,” said Ewelina Bakaj, who holds a Master’s in Economics from Poland and is a former accounting manager/bookkeeper with experience managing a large staff. “All the classes were organized and understandable. I improved my English, have a great resume and gained self-confidence. And the most important thing is I learned QuickBooks.”
Trilingual Marilin M. Santacruz Rodriguez, an experienced auditor from Paraguay with a dual Bachelor’s in Accounting and Administrative Sciences as well as in Business, said the program not only gave her training in QuickBooks, it has also encouraged her to continue her education by striving to earn a bachelor’s degree in the U.S.
About LaGuardia Community College
LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit www.laguardia.edu to learn more.