Howard University Accounting Dept. Chair Tackles Black Representation in Children's Book
by Isaiah E. Bailey | on 24 April 2021
"I had access to the things he did and was exposed to how he pretty much helped everyone in that community. What I understood at the time is that I had to do well in school since my grandfather was an educator."
"I was thinking why didn’t anyone say something about this when I was growing up? I knew about doctors. I knew about lawyers. I knew about teachers. But no one said, hey, there’s another world that you can consider."
"I think all Black households should have it because there’s this large gap we have and if I had seen this book when I was 11 years old I would have been excited."
Born in Victoria, MS and raised in a single-parent household led by his mother, Dr. Adrian L. Mayse, CPA, Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Accounting at Howard University, learned early on the importance and impact of literature and representation. The Black Accountants Talent Network (BATN) caught up with Dr. Mayse, CPA to learn more about what inspired his recent children's book When I Grow up I Want to be an Accountant.
What did you see as a young person growing up as your options in terms of career paths?
I had a very interesting dynamic as I was growing up. I was in a single parent household. My mother graduated from high school but had no further education as far as college. She worked in different industries – manufacturing, hotels, or different factories. But my grandfather had his Masters from the University of Mississippi, and he was a teacher and a basketball coach. At one time, he was a football coach. He did construction during the summer time and did taxes during tax season.
I didn’t know what all that was at the time. I just thought this was a man trying to make ends meet. I didn’t understand the impact that he had on me. All I knew was that I was a little better off than most people in my surrounding family who all lived on the same row.
I had access to the things he did and was exposed to how he pretty much helped everyone in that community. What I understood at the time is that I had to do well in school since my grandfather was an educator. I knew I had to go to college, but it wasn’t pushed. I just knew I had to do well in school at least through high school.
How did your upbringing influence this amazing children’s book in terms of your exposure to literacy?
The children’s book is very interesting because I wasn’t that child that loved to get my hands on books. I had access to books but they weren’t children’s books. My grandparents had many bookshelves filled with books.
For a long time I was the only child until my first sibling was born when I was 11. For 11 years I was pretty much at my grandparents house and would spend time going through the books. But it wasn’t about reading it was about the images. I would gravitate towards picture books.
It’s amazing how when I talk about it now that’s why the book is more illustration than it is context. I would just gravitate towards the visual or how things were presented.
How did this book come about?
The children’s book came about because I’m in this industry that we are trying to increase the minorities in the profession and so I think we are doing a great job, but I feel like there is a gap.
Yes, we are trying to make sure that in the firms we are retaining minorities. We are trying to get them to Partner. We are trying to get them into the industry. We are trying to get them to be accounting majors as far as programs to high school students, but I was thinking I didn’t hear about the word accounting until my senior year in high school. I really didn’t learn there was a profession really until college.
I was thinking why didn’t anyone say something about this when I was growing up? I knew about doctors. I knew about lawyers. I knew about teachers. But no one said, hey, there’s another world that you can consider.
The first step for me is to let children see themselves. And I think the book is beyond children. The book is for all families. I think all Black households should have it because there’s this large gap we have, and if I had seen this book when I was 11 years old I would have been excited.
What’s next? What can we hope to expect next from you in terms of bringing accounting to the forefront of career options?
I have tons of ideas. I think this should be part of the K-8 curriculum – not the book per se but accounting as a subject. As an educator, I’m thinking about curriculum as well as visual things such as puzzles just to see representation increase.
Providing animation and videos on different topics that are technical in nature or geared towards exposure even in the documentary or cartoon form. We have all of these shows about doctors so there are several avenues of content to be created. So it’s going through those things and seeing what makes sense to me.
About Dr. Adrian L. Mayse, CPA
Dr. Adrian L. Mayse, CPA is the Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Accounting. He is a member of the Howard University LGBTQ+ Advisory Council. Prior to joining the faculty at Howard University in 2015, Dr. Mayse was a faculty member at Middle Tennessee State University. He is the author of "When I Grow Up I Want To Be... An Accountant". His research focuses on the judgment and decision making of auditors and financial statement users concerning audit standard setting and regulation. His research appears in the Journal of Accounting and Finance, Journal of Business and Economic Perspectives, Journal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics, Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business and the Journal of Finance and Accountancy.
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Isaiah E. Bailey
Founder, Black Accountants Talent Network (BATN)
I am passionate about creating constructive conversations aimed at improving and implementing actionable and impactful diversity and inclusion strategies applicable to all industries. I am also a dedicated mentor to high school and college students across the Greater New York City and Philadelphia areas.
I am an experienced accounting and auditing professional with over 5 years experience auditing financial statements and documenting, validating and assessing financial systems, strategies, and controls that significantly improve business operations. I have a strong ability to analyze and organize data and communicate results across all levels of an organization both verbally and written.
I have experience providing financial statement audit, carve-out audit, single audit, audit of internal controls over financial reporting (ICFR) and IFRS quarterly reviews for engagements both domestic and international, ranging from start-up to billion dollar companies both private and public.