CPA Exam award-winner leaned on WSU professors during her studies

  • Alina Keow is the third Shocker to earn an Elijah Watt Sells Award since 2009.
  • Keow is one of 137 people honored in 2019, from a pool of more than 75,000 who sat for the exam.
  • Keow chose the School of Accountancy because the field offers many career opportunities.

Alina Keow handled the CPA Exam in award-winning fashion. Even with a national honor on her resume, she remembers when studying accounting wasn’t easy.

She remembers asking for help during her studies at Wichita State University, from where she graduated in 2018. Freshmen who want to follow her path are offered this advice:

“There may be times when the material seems daunting, especially in the advanced financial accounting classes,” she said. “Take your time to understand the material, and take advantage of your instructors’ office hours. WSU has great accounting professors who are committed to help you achieve your goals.”

Keow’s accounting goals are all in front of her after she recently earned the 2019 Elijah Watt Sells Award, which recognizes outstanding accomplishment on the CPA Exam. She is one of 137 people honored out of nearly 75,000 who sat for the CPA Exam in 2019.

“Alina represents the WSU promise of opportunity fulfilled,” said Michael Flores, assistant director in the School of Accountancy. “She came to us with outstanding intelligence and an exceptional work ethic. Her hard work in the classroom prepared her to not only pass the CPA, but to do so at a nationally recognized high level.”

Keow now works for Ernst & Young in Oklahoma City. 

“The award felt like a bonus that came unexpectedly,” she said. “My coworkers were very supportive while I was taking the exams, and they were excited to hear the news. The firm released an announcement of all the EWS award winners at EY, and a lot of congratulatory messages poured in because of that.”

Keow also credited membership in Beta Alpha Psi, the honor society for financial, accounting and information students and professionals, with helping her career.

“I learned what skills and experience that employers are looking for in potential hires,” she said. “We were also informed of the recruiting cycles and when employers would be visiting campus. This helped me prepare myself when I was looking for opportunities as a junior/senior.”

Keow graduated Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor of business administration with dual majors in accounting and information technology and management information systems, and a minor in economics.

She is the third Wichita State School of Accountancy graduate to win the award in recent years. She joins Amber (Loewen) Turner (2015) and Isaiah Massey (2009).

Keow’s family connection to Wichita State is strong (two members of her family graduated from the university), so she applied only to WSU and studied in the W. Frank Barton School of Business.

“I was attracted to the versatility of an accounting degree, as well as the intellectual challenge that comes with the academic material,” Keow said. “This major also gives access to a wide array of jobs and opportunities for career advancements in different areas of business.”

To qualify for the award, CPA candidates must obtain a cumulative average score above 95.50 across all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination, pass all four sections on their first attempt and have completed testing in 2019.

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

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