Swear Nothing gets me choked up like watching a bunch of new CPAs join the profession.

Think I’m joking? Think again.

I’ve attended Maryland’s New CPA Swearing-In Ceremony each of the past three years. Each ceremony has been more emotional, more meaningful that the last, and I’m convinced the event is quickly becoming one of the most important on the Maryland CPA calendar.

A prelude to the MACPA‘s Maryland CPA Summit, the¬†annual ceremony invites the state’s newest CPAs to raise their right hands and recite the following oath:

“I solemnly swear that I will assume the responsibilities and obligations as a certified public accountant in the state of Maryland and in the United States of America. I will support the laws and regulations and perform my professional duties to the best of my ability in an ethical, professional and objective manner. As a CPA, I will uphold the honor and dignity of the accounting profession and abide by the rules of professional conduct.”

It’s strictly ceremonial. New CPAs don’t have to take the oath before launching their careers.

So why is it important?

A couple of reasons come to mind.

Not only does the ceremony give new CPAs and their families an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments, but it forces those attending to actually verbalize their commitment to serving the public. Passing the exam and earning your license is one thing. Actually standing in front of state and federal regulators, raising your right hand and promising to do the right thing is a powerful step. I’d be willing to bet it’s one the new CPAs will remember when faced with professionally and morally difficult decisions.

Then there’s this: When you talk to the new CPAs, you quickly realize how much the event means to them. Peter Patrone called it “the exclamation point” on his years of studying and countless hours of exam preparation.

During a recent MACPA town hall meeting, a 2009 Swearing-In Ceremony attendee took it even further. “She said it was the most important experience of her life and that only then did she realize the significance of the CPA license and her commitment to the public interest,” said MACPA Executive Director Tom Hood.

The pride in their accomplishment was transparent. Let’s hope they wear that pride on their sleeves throughout their careers.

Congratulations, folks, and welcome to the profession. Now make us proud.

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