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Published on June 17th, 2020 | by TLV News


UM School of Accountancy Achieves Historic CPA Exam Award Results

Ole Miss ranks No. 2 nationally and No. 1 in the SEC

Six students from the Patterson School of Accountancy at the University of Mississippi have received the 2019 Elijah Watt Sells Award, the most prestigious certified public accountant exam award in the world.

Nearly 75,000 individuals sat for the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination in 2019, with only 137 candidates meeting the criteria to receive the Elijah Watt Sells Award. To qualify, CPA candidates must pass all four sections of the exam on their first attempt, have completed testing in 2019 and obtain a cumulative average score above 95.50 across all four sections – the latter by far the most difficult requirement.

UM students receiving the award are Jason Dinsmore, Sarah Heuerman, Austin Huckaby, Hayden Poer, Ryan Rosenbaum and Kellie Shannon.

“We are exceptionally proud of these six students,” Dean Mark Wilder said. “While they are all certainly bright young scholars, what impresses me the most is the intense effort and discipline each put forth to enable them to achieve the Sells Award.

“They provide great examples for other students to follow and we are very pleased that they are, or soon will be, Ole Miss alumni.”

The UM accounting school is ranked second nationally and first in the Southeastern Conference in number of Elijah Watt Sells recipients in 2019. Thirteen students from SEC universities received the award, with six coming from UM and seven from the other 13 SEC institutions combined.

Dinsmore, from Forest Hill, Maryland, received his undergraduate degree at the University of Richmond. His GPA has been perfect throughout college, and he will graduate with a Master of Taxation and Data Analytics degree in August. He begins full-time employment with accounting firm KPMG this fall in Tysons Corner, Virginia.

Huckaby was an August 2019 graduate of the school’s Master of Accountancy and Data Analytics program, graduating with a perfect 4.0 GPA. A native of Bakersfield, California, who received his undergraduate degree from UCLA, Huckaby works for KPMG in Austin, Texas.

Heuerman graduated with a Master of Accountancy degree from UM in May 2019 with a perfect 4.0 GPA. A native of Nashville, Tennessee, who also earned her Bachelor of Accountancy degree from Ole Miss, she works for PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York.

Hayden Poer

Poer was an August 2019 graduate of the school’s Master of Taxation and Data Analytics program, graduating with a perfect 4.0 GPA. The Madison native also received his bachelor’s degree from UM. Poer works for KPMG in New York.

Rosenbaum, from Buffalo Grove, Illinois, received his undergraduate degree from Indiana University at Bloomington. His GPA has been perfect at Ole Miss, and he will graduate with a Master of Taxation and Data Analytics degree in August. He plans to begin full-time employment with KPMG this fall in Chicago.

Shannon, who received the Hearin Support Foundation Data Analytics Fellowship in 2018-19, is one of the inaugural May 2019 graduates of the school’s Master of Accountancy and Data Analytics program. The Madison native graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA at Ole Miss for both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Shannon, who works for KPMG in Jackson, is also this year’s winner of the Gold Medal on the CPA exam for the state of Mississippi.

Dinsmore, Huckaby, Poer and Rosenbaum all have been part of the KPMG-sponsored Data Analysis cohort at Ole Miss. Huckaby and Poer were in the inaugural 2018-19 cohort, with Dinsmore and Rosenbaum in the 2019-20 group.

Three of the winners spent five years at Ole Miss, receiving both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. They all had high praise for their experience in the accounting school.

“I owe my sincere thanks to the Patterson School of Accountancy for setting the foundation of my success” Heuerman said. “Though a rigorous commitment, this school provided me with the skills and resources needed to not only access amazing opportunities, but to stand out amongst my competition.”

Poer said that is a huge honor to represent the state of Mississippi, the accounting school and KPMG as a recipient of the award.

“I will forever be indebted to the Patterson School of Accountancy,” he said. “I could write a book thanking those who made an impact on me within the program. Without my experiences at Ole Miss, I could have never achieved this award.”

Kellie Shannon

Shannon said receiving the award is “a wonderful capstone to my time at Ole Miss.”

“The high number of award recipients from Ole Miss speaks to the quality of the Patterson School of Accountancy,” she said. “The professors at Ole Miss provide a strong foundation for the CPA exam and create an environment in which students want to succeed.

“I am proud to be a graduate of one of the top-ranked accounting schools in the nation.”

The average score across the individual sections of the CPA exam for the six Ole Miss Sells winners was 96.625. Sixteen of those 24 scores were 97 or higher, with five scores at 99, the highest score possible on a CPA exam section.

Huckaby had the highest scores among the group, averaging 98.25 across his four sections of the exam.

The Elijah Watt Sells Award program was established by the American Institute of CPAs in 1923 to recognize outstanding performance on the professional exam. Sells, one of the first CPAs in the U.S., was active in the establishment of the AICPA and played a key role advancing professional education within the profession.

By Nicole Ethridge

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About the Author

The Local Voice is a bimonthly entertainment guide and newspaper based in Oxford, Mississippi, covering and distributed in North Central Mississippi, including Oxford, Ole Miss, Taylor, Abbeville, Water Valley, Lafayette County, Yalobusha County, and parts of Panola County, Marshall County, and Tupelo . The Local Voice is distributed free to over 255 locations in North Mississippi and also available as a full color PDF download worldwide on the internet.

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