In the CPA world, the Elijah Watt Sells Award is a big deal.

How big?

If you have one, it means your cumulative average score on the most recent CPA exam was 95.50, and that you passed all four sections on your first try, and that you did all that within the past year.

Piece o’ cake, right?

Only 60 candidates in the entire country earned the honor in 2014. Given the criteria, even one award-winner from Maryland would be cause for celebration.

This year, we’ve got three.

Maryland’s Elijah Watt Sells Award-winners for 2014 are:

  • John Karl Buntz, a graduate of Salisbury University with bachelor’s degrees in accounting and corporate finance who is employed with McGladrey in Baltimore.
     
  • Kristen Jeanne Fleet, a graduate of Towson University with a master’s degree in accounting and business advisory services who is employed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington, D.C.
     
  • Ophair Silver, a graduate of Ner Israel Rabbinical College with accounting education from Louisiana State University and Community College of Baltimore County.

These awards aren’t about Maryland, though. They’re about the entire profession. Plenty of students are studying accounting — in the wake of the recession, it’s one of the sexier majors out there. The problem is, fewer of them are putting in the time and effort needed to earn their CPA designations.

That hesitation is coming at a time when we desperately need more CPAs. No one speaks the language of business better than a CPA, and with business evolving faster than ever before, CPAs are our knights in shining armor.

“Being a CPA sets you apart from almost anyone else who works in accounting or finance,” said Buntz, 22. “You’ve put in the schooling, you took a pretty tough exam, you have the professional experience. There’s a level of quality that’s expected of you.”

By and large, they deliver — and now Maryland is home to three of the brightest young CPAs on the block.

To John, Kristen, and Ophair — congratulations on your fantastic accomplishment!

Your next task: Make us proud.

It shouldn’t be hard. You already have.

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