Dordt College News

Two Dordt College alumni earned prestigious Elijah Watt Sells Award

April 22, 2013

Dordt College accounting and finance graduate Michael Gorter (class of ’12) was recently awarded the prestigious Elijah Watt Sells Award, an annual award given to those with the highest scores in the nation on the four-part Certified Public Accounting (CPA) Exam.

In the last three years, two Dordt College graduates have earned this impressive award including accounting and business graduate Kristen Brands (class of ’10) who won the award in 2010. Gorter won in 2012 with a score that put him in the top 0.05 percentile in the nation—the top 1/20th of the 99th percentile.

“In a typical year, approximately 100,000 people sit for the exam. This means that although Dordt College enrolls less than one out of every 15,000 United States college students, it has had one out of every 43 Sells Award winners in the past three years,” said John Visser, Dordt College professor of business administration.

During the past three years, only a dozen colleges and universities (out of 4,495 degree-granting institutions in the United States) have had two or more graduates receive the award. Only the University of Georgia, which has nearly 20 times the accounting students of Dordt, has had three bachelor’s degree students who were recipients during this period.

“Bottom line,” said Visser, “no other U.S. college or university—including Harvard, Princeton, MIT, and Stanford—has had as high a ratio of Sells Award winners to accounting graduates in the past three years as Dordt College.” 

Like most students sitting for the exam, both Brands and Gorter benefitted from the Becker CPA review course. Visser also attributes their success to several factors that helped shape their character and work ethic: strong Christian homes, parents willing and able to make the financial sacrifice necessary for their education, and active supporting church communities.

“Dordt College does not advertise itself as a premier accounting school. Its primary purpose—as captured in its mission statement—is to ‘equip students, alumni, and the broader community to work effectively toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life,’” said Visser. “Thankfully, by God’s grace, academic excellence is one of the many important byproducts of this mission—and Kristen and Michael’s accomplishments are certainly evidence of this.”

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