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Congrats to the VSCPA's Elijah Watt Sells Award winners

October 19, 2020

Taking the CPA Exam is hard enough. For a select group of new CPAs, their hard work paid off with the prestigious Elijah Watt Sells Award, given to the country’s highest Exam performers. To receive the recognition, candidates must pass all four sections on the first attempt and obtain a cumulative score above 95.5 across all four sections. The VSCPA has two members who knocked it out of the park in 2019.

Julia Ioffredo, CPA 

Senior Accountant, KWC, Alexandria 

Hometown: Bannemin, Germany 

Degrees: B.A. in Tourism Business Administration from the Berlin School of Economics and Law, Accounting Certificate Program at George Mason University 

To prepare for the Exam: I used the Gleim CPA Review course to study. I read the outline and did the practice problems that were recommended. But I also frequently went back to previous chapters and did additional practice problems to maintain my knowledge until I was ready to take the Exam. 

My advice to CPA Exam takers: Do lots of practice problems! 

People don’t know this, but: I grew up on Germany’s second largest island. 

For fun, I like to: Hike, travel and bake. 

Tom Maguire, CPA 

Financial Services Assurance Associate, PwC, McLean 

Hometown: Atlanta 

University: Georgetown  

To prepare for the Exam: I took the Exams the summer after graduation, which made it easier because I wasn’t juggling work and studying. I just treated studying like a full-time job and crammed for 2–3 weeks before each one. 

My advice to CPA Exam takers is: Just do as many multiple-choice practice questions as you can. Set aside the time you realistically need to get the studying done and stay disciplined. There’s not really a secret sauce sadly, it’s pretty much just hard work.

I wanted to be a CPA because: I think the broad base of in-depth technical knowledge that comes with studying for the CPA is extremely helpful for any career in business. I wanted to be able to look at a company’s financial statements and have a comprehensive understanding of everything in there. If you understand the financials you can understand what drives their core business, what their prospects going forward look like and how high quality their earnings are. It’s an overused expression but it’s true that accounting is the language of business. 

My career aspirations include: In the short term, our firm has been working a lot with automation which has been the most exciting aspect of the job in my opinion ... Longer term, I’m currently studying for the CFA so I’m interested in pursuing roles that utilize the foundational accounting knowledge I have, but apply it in a more forward-looking manner. 

:My favorite things to do during quarantine are: I’ve attempted to cook more often and more creatively with pretty mixed results. I watched Hamilton a couple times and listened to the soundtrack about 100 more. The king is my personal favorite.