ACC graduate earns prestigious Elijah Watts Sells Award; national CPA award for top performers

Sonya Tao Picture

Of more than 75,000 students across the nation who took the CPA exam in 2020, only 89 were selected top performers by the American Institute of CPAs. One of those students, and the only one from a community college, is Austin Community College District (ACC) graduate Sonya Tao. 

“I chose ACC because of its flexible and affordable accounting program. Being able to take evening and online classes allowed me to gain the necessary credits to sit for the CPA exam while still working full time,” says Sonya.

Sonya was awarded the prestigious Elijah Watt Sells Award for her achievement. The award is presented to candidates who score above 95.50 across the four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination on their first attempt. She is the third ACC student to earn the honor.

“I really feel like ACC’s program set me up for success by providing excellent coverage of all of the topics covered by the exam. Obtaining the CPA license can open so many doors, and ACC is a great place to start your CPA journey.”

Working as an audit manager with the Texas State Auditor’s Office, Sonya previously received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics from Northwestern University. She came back to ACC to earn her CPA certification, completing the program at the end of 2020.

“ACC’s program is well-designed and executed by the outstanding professors at ACC, starting with foundational knowledge in accounting gained in the introductory courses that are built upon as you progress through the curriculum.”

For more information about the ACC’s Accounting Program, visit