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        Accounting, Alumni, Award

        Alumnus earns prestigious accounting award, begins career in London

        June 13, 2024 By Troy Turner

        All News


        Auburn University graduate Jack Wyatt has earned one of the accounting profession’s highest honors after achieving exceptionally high scores on the CPA Exam, helping him earn international attention. Wyatt recently was announced as a 2023 winner of the prestigious Elijah Watt Sells Award.

        Jack Wyatt portrait standing

        Alumnus Jack Wyatt (accounting '22, '23) won the 2023 Elijah Watt Sells award for exceptionally high scores on the CPA Exam.

        For perspective, more than 86,000 individuals sat for the exam in 2023, and only 40 of them earned the Sells award.

        Wyatt graduated from Auburn’s Harbert College of Business and School of Accountancy, earning a bachelor’s degree in 2022 and a master’s degree in 2023. That led to a job as a U.S. business tax analyst for Deloitte, a global business services and consulting firm, working in London, England.

        “Ultimately, the payoff of being a CPA is far greater than receiving the award, and I consider that to be the real accomplishment,” Wyatt said. “However, it is really cool to be acknowledged for my hard work. I had an amazing support network of family, friends, professors and advisors helping me through the process, and I couldn't have done it without them.”

        Passing the CPA Exam is necessary to become a Certified Public Accountant, the professional standard required in the industry by most companies and firms providing such services.

        “I count myself as incredibly blessed to have received such a strong education and equally blessed to start my career with an exciting role in a beautiful city,” he said.

        The Elijah Watt Sells Award program was established in 1923 to recognize outstanding performance on the exam. To earn it, a CPA candidate must have obtained a cumulative average score above 95.50 on the CPA Exam’s four sections, and passed all four sections of the exam on the first attempt.

        Harbert’s reputation grows

        Wyatt, who is from Springville, Alabama, near Birmingham, said he chose to pursue an accounting career during spring of his freshman year.

        “I wasn't initially that interested in accounting, but I wanted a major that taught me quantitative and analytical skills while allowing me to be social once I entered the field,” he said. “After joining the major, I just kept an open mind and eventually found a niche that I liked.”

        He praised the faculty and program at Harbert for getting him well prepared.

        “I feel like I derived so much value from my accounting courses and was really prepared to enter the business world because of them. I also got a lot out of my business analytics classes. Outside of academics, I'd give a lot of credit to the School of Accountancy’s excellent recruiting apparatus,” Wyatt said.

        “Having an advisor that largely focused on recruiting, Colby Lakas, was amazing, and Beta Alpha Psi, the accounting academic fraternity, is a wonderful organization. The format of the Master of Accountancy program is also great, as it allowed me to quickly enter the professional world and made it very easy to take and pass the CPA Exam,” he said.

        Carrying with him a degree from Auburn’s Harbert College of Business stands out, Wyatt said, referring to the school’s reputation.

        “So far, my networking from the college has been amazing. There is a Harbert grad working in just about every major city you can think of, and I really think the Auburn family does a great job helping each other out in a career sense,” he said. “In addition to that, Harbert's ever-increasing academic reputation means that I get more value out of my degree every year.”

        On the right track

        Faculty members at Harbert are proud of Wyatt and his accomplishments, said Andee Hodo, director of graduate and online programs with the School of Accountancy.

        “We are all very excited about this award for Jack,” she said, and also of how it reflects a positive approach by Harbert. “I think the biggest thing is this acknowledges the technical expertise in financial accounting, auditing, taxation as well as business concepts. It really is an honor to be in the select group of individuals.”

        Wyatt earning the Sells award and passing the CPA Exam with flying colors on his first attempt are further indication that Harbert’s programs, both undergraduate and graduate level, “prepare students to be technically proficient on the CPA Exam as well as their future careers,” Hodo said.

        “Faculty are focused on making sure students are prepared for their future careers, and that shows with successful pass rates on the CPA Exam,” she said.


        Learn more about the School of Accountancy in the Harbert College of Business.