Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Third Huntsman Student in Two Years Wins Accounting Industry’s Highest Honor

By Klydi Heywood

When Huntsman alumni Jill Aoki and Anthony Lemon received the 2012 Elijah Watt Sells Award, many marveled at the odds, but one Huntsman student took it as a challenge.

The American Institute of CPAs recently announced that Tyson Irwin, Accounting BS ’12, MA ’13, has earned the 2013 Elijah Watt Sells Award, the third Aggie to do so in the past two years. Just 55 people out of 94,000 candidates taking the exam this year earned the award, which is given to those who scored a cumulative average above 95.5 on all four tests required to become a certified public accountant.

2013 Elijah Watt Sells Award Recipient Tyson Irwin
“Tyson was always an outstanding student and was chosen as one of our Quigley Ambassadors because he exemplified the Huntsman values so well,” said Dr. Larry Walther, department head of the USU School of Accountancy. “We are thrilled for his accomplishment at this level.”

Graduates from Texas A&M, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Brigham Young University, University of Michigan, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and Purdue University were among those who earned the prestigious award.

Irwin credits his success on the exam to the School of Accountancy's roster of professors.

“The professors have a good mix of business and educational backgrounds that they bring to the classroom,” Irwin said. “Additionally, the professors would often highlight how a specific topic relates to the CPA exam, or how what we were learning could be used in our future careers.”

Scott Nixon, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers where Irwin now works, first met him at a recruiting event.

“I immediately recognized he was on the ball, displayed a mature executive presence and had a comprehensive understanding of our profession and how he could contribute to the success of our firm,” Nixon said.

The odds of three students in two years winning the award is almost unheard of.

“It is no ‘fluke’ to have these winners of the Sells Award come out of the USU School of Accountancy for the past two years,” Nixon said. “Instead, it is indicative of a trend that clearly demonstrates the incredible education the students receive. Combined with the solid work ethic that is integral to so many of the USU students. We hope that many more will follow the example of these past three winners.”

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