UMSL alumna earns Elijah Watt Sells Award

UMSL alumna Brighton Ranney is a 2012 Elijah Watt Sells Award recipient.

Brighton Ranney was pleasantly surprised when she found out she was a 2012 Elijah Watt Sells Award recipient. And the University of Missouri–St. Louis alumna quickly realized she had joined an elite class.

Ranney, who earned her master’s degree in accounting from UMSL in 2012, is the third UMSL alumnus to receive the award in the last five years. UMSL is one of only 10 universities in the United States to have at least three winners since 2007.

“Others who have achieved this are some of the largest accounting programs in the country, such as Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, University of Texas in Austin and University of Wisconsin in Madison,” said Mary Beth Mohrman, associate professor of accounting and chair of the Accounting Department at UMSL. “The fact that our much-smaller program has produced three winners is a newsworthy accomplishment. This level of achievement is an indication of the rigor of our accounting program. Our students are bright and hard-working, and many of them are able to achieve excellence on a national and international level.”

Nguyen Ngo, who earned her master’s degree in accounting from UMSL in 2011, received the award in 2012; and Chris Leon, who earned bachelor’s degrees in business and accounting in 2007, received the award in 2008. The national award is presented each year to candidates earning the cumulative highest score on the four-part Uniform Certified Public Accountants examination. More than 90,000 candidates sat for the exam in 2012.

“I think having so many awardees in recent years shows the strength of UMSL’s accounting program,” Ranney said. “I am proud to represent UMSL’s great program. While the professors are not teaching to the exam, they are teaching you all the fundamental information you have to know. One of my most difficult classes, Pamela Stuerke’s (associate professor of accounting) professional writing class taught me to use words precisely and helped prepare me for the written portion of the CPA exam. All the financial reporting classes are obviously important; all those seemingly random things you learn in accounting information systems and everything you have to memorize in auditing will appear in sections of the CPA exam.”

Ranney, a resident of Wildwood, Mo., is an associate at Tax Strategies, a part of Moneta Group in Clayton, Mo.  Tax Strategies provides specialized proactive tax planning solutions, preparation services and year-round tax advice for clients.

She began as an intern during the 2011 tax season after receiving a recommendation from Greg Geisler, professor of accounting at UMSL.

“I’m so thankful to UMSL for preparing me for my current career,” she said. “I received an offer for permanent employment during my final semester at UMSL.”


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