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Oklahoma State University

OSU alums Nathan Herrmann, Kelsey Ray winners of prestigious accounting award

Friday, April 12, 2019

Kelsey Ray, Nathan Herrmann

Oklahoma State University graduates Nathan Herrmann and Kelsey Ray are two of only 110 people in the nation to receive the 2018 Elijah Watt Sells Award, presented annually by the American Institute of CPAs, the world’s largest member association representing the accounting profession.

The award recognizes those individuals who scored a cumulative average score of above 95.50 across all four sections of the CPA exam, passed all four sections of the exam on their first attempt and have completed all their testing in 2018. More than 86,000 individuals took the CPA exam in 2018.

Herrmann graduated from OSU’s School of Accounting with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting in the spring of 2018. He is employed with KPMG, LLP in Denver.

Ray earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2016 and earned her master’s in 2018. She is employed in the Assurance Services department in EY’s Tulsa office.

“Receiving this award was really exciting,” Herrmann said. “It felt great to have the hours of studying be validated by a great result on the exams. The accounting program here does a really good job of preparing its students and it’s cool to be able to represent OSU in this way."

“I feel very excited and honored to be a recipient of this award,” Ray said. “I believe this honor is the culmination of a strong foundation in accounting and a lot of hard work. Being a recipient reflects positively on both OSU and myself, and I am excited to continue my career as an accounting professional with the same level of dedication.”

Both Ray and Herrmann speak highly of their OSU education.

“I am very proud to begin my professional career with an accounting education from OSU,” Ray said. “Not only did both the undergraduate and graduate program at OSU help me build a strong foundation in technical accounting, these programs also helped me develop a strong work ethic and sense of self-discipline. As an accounting student, I was constantly surrounded by professors who had high standards, but always provided us with the guidance to achieve excellence. In particular, my graduate courses encouraged analytical thinking, which is a critical skill to hone as an auditor. My education from OSU was a cornerstone to my success on the CPA exam, and I am grateful for all who invested in my future during my time there.”

Herrmann said, “I am incredibly blessed by the support I received from the faculty and staff at OSU throughout my education and much of the credit has to go to them. Going through the CPA exam review was actually just a review because I was very well prepared by the accounting program. Beyond just the exams, OSU prepared me well for a career itself by encouraging internships, practical application learning like Jim Burkman’s spreadsheets class or learning to analyze what I read in the Wall Street Journal in Dr. Bill Schwartz’s class, and offering experiences through extracurriculars and scholarship programs such as Scholar Leaders.”

Founded in 1923, the Elijah Watt Sells Award program annually recognizes those with top CPA exam scores. Sells was one of the first CPAs in the U.S., and was key to the founding of the AICPA as well as education programs within the profession.

For the complete list of 2018 Elijah Watt Sell Award winners, visit the AICPA’s website:

For more information about OSU’s accounting program, visit the school’s website.

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