Foster accounting grad receives top honor for CPA Exam performance

Michelle Bauer

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has granted its 2019 Elijah Watt Sells Award to Michelle Bauer (BA 2018), a recent graduate of the University of Washington Foster School of Business.

The annual award honors outstanding performance on the Uniform CPA Examination. To qualify, CPA candidates must obtain a cumulative average score above 95.50 across all four sections of the CPA Exam and pass all four sections on their first attempt in a single year.

Nearly 86,000 individuals sat for the CPA Exam in 2018 with only 110 candidates meeting the award’s stringent criteria. That puts Bauer’s performance in the top .1 percent of last year’s prospective CPAs.

“Winning the Sells Award is an extremely impressive accomplishment for any CPA candidate,” said Mike Decker, vice president of examinations at the AICPA. “The CPA Exam is a rigorous assessment and these candidates are commended for an exceptional performance that very few individuals achieve.”

Accounting all-star

Bauer became interested in a career in accounting after hearing her father describe how he was helping his company respond to risk after fraud was discovered. After testing the waters at Green River Community College, she transferred to the UW in fall 2015 to study accounting.

She joined the UW chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, the international honor organization for financial information students and professionals. As a member she represented Foster at the 2016 Deloitte Best Practices Case Competition (Northwest Region), and served as student development officer the following year.

Bauer also represented Foster at the 2016 Deloitte Audit Innovation Campus Challenge in Los Angeles and studied economic and business trends in the Middle East via a study tour of Oman and the United Arab Emirates co-sponsored by the Foster School and the Jackson School of International Studies.

Summa cum laude

During her time at Foster, Bauer received scholarships awarded by the Washington State Society of Certified Public Accountants Foundation, the Institute of Internal Auditors Puget Sound Chapter, and The Boeing Company.

She was named by Foster accounting faculty the Most Outstanding Accounting Graduate of 2018, and graduated summa cum laude from the UW last June with a BA in accounting and information systems.

After graduation, Bauer joined Moss Adams and currently works in the firm’s Business Risk Services group where she helps clients identify, evaluate and address business risks, and comply with the internal controls requirement of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Having conquered the CPA Exam, she’s turning her attention to obtaining the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential.