She thought she had failed. This was something Addison Scott did not do.
In fact, she had just graduated from the Sam M. Walton College of Business earning three degrees in 2015: a bachelor’s in accounting and finance, a bachelor’s in international economics and a master’s in accounting.
But the studying was far from over. Following graduation, she hit the books as she prepared to take the CPA exam, which consists of four individual sections lasting up to four hours each.
After taking her first exam, Scott had a sinking feeling. She was certain she had failed.
Yet Scott forged on with the three subsequent exams without knowing the results of the first one, only to learn a few weeks later that her worries about passing were unwarranted.
She had aced all four.
By March 2016, with the exams and accompanying anxieties long behind her, Scott was back in Northwest Arkansas, working as an auditor for Ernst & Young in Rogers. During the firm’s busiest time of year, she received an email. She had won the 2015 Elijah Watt Sells Award.
Not to draw attention, she quietly stepped away, called her family and then went back to work.
The Elijah Watt Sells Award is given to CPA candidates who have obtained a cumulative average score above 95.50 across all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination, passed all four sections of the examination on their first attempt and completed testing in 2015. A total of 93,742 individuals sat for the Examination in 2015, with Scott as one of only 75 candidates meeting the criteria to receive the Elijah Watt Sells Award.
Scott was one of two Walton graduates to win the award that year, the other being Philip Meek. (Read about Philip here.)
When Scott confided to a co-worker about the good news, he wasn’t going to let this achievement go unnoticed. He arranged a lunch gathering with her co-workers and they celebrated.
The family atmosphere is one of the many things Scott enjoys about working at Ernst & Young, where she began her career after interning there as an undergraduate. The job also enables her to travel. She has been to Canada and San Francisco and hopes to work abroad as well.
It’s all part of what she loves doing, even though it can mean long hours and all kinds of demands. “I find I’m the most excited about my job on the days when I’m most challenged,” Scott says.
The Walton College laid the groundwork for her success. Before she took her first accounting class, she did environmental audits for SIFE (now known as Enactus), a student organization that uses entrepreneurial skills toward community development. This opened up a new world for her. When she took a multijurisdictional tax class because she “thought it would be fun,” she found that it provided skills she uses on the job.
It looks like the Walton College may become a family tradition. Her sister, Amy Scott, is a Walton student majoring in both supply chain management and retail.
Scott encourages students like her sister to take advantage of all that Walton offers. “You have to be open to challenging experiences that help you grow,” she says.
She also received a memento from the AICPA. “I got a very heavy plaque – a thick slab of marble,” she says.
It sits on a table at home.
“The life of a staff auditor doesn’t warrant a lot of space to hang up a giant marble plaque at work,” she says, laughing.