AICPA honors top CPA exam performers with Elijah Watt Sells Award

Bradley Ostendorf, a 2012 Minnesota State University Moorhead accounting graduate and Melrose High School graduate, was one of 39 winners of the 2012 Elijah Watt Sells Award, announced by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA).

The award is given to candidates who have obtained a cumulative average score above 95.50 across all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination, completed testing during the 2012 calendar year and passed all four sections of the examination on their first attempt. More than 92,000 candidates sat for the examination in 2012. Thirty-nine candidates met the criteria.

This year’s winners were from schools such as University of Illinois, Texas A&M University, Brigham Young, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Michigan, American University, Boston College and Georgetown University. Twenty-four of the 39 winners had earned master’s degrees in professional accountancy or financial planning.

Ostendorf credits MSUM’s professors and the rigorous accounting curriculum for preparing him so well for the CPA exam.

“We had to do the homework and really understand the material before a test. Intermediate (accounting) one and two were probably the biggest similarities from my college career to the actual CPA exam,” Ostendorf said. The difficult courses were tempered by small classes averaging 20 to 25 students. “Because the classes are small, it’s easy to get questions answered and to build relationships with the professors and other students.

“I can’t say enough about the professors; they are by far the greatest strength of MSUM,” Ostendorf said. “The accounting professors are top notch, they know their stuff and they care about you. The friendships I developed with them are a big reason I knew I wanted to go into accounting.

Ostendorf interned with McGladrey LLP during spring semester of 2011 and was offered a job there before returning to MSUM to finish his degree. He is an international tax associate with the largest U.S. provider of assurance, tax and consulting services focused on the middle market. McGladrey has 75 offices nationwide.

Ostendorf is the son of Dave and Sherry Ostendorf, Melrose. He and his wife, Amy nee Hellickson (MSUM 2012, exercise science), make their home in Blaine.

The Elijah Watt Sells Award program was established in 1923 by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to recognize outstanding performance on the CPA Examination.

Read the AICPA release.