The notoriously difficult Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination has a pass rate of 50 percent. Citizen Potawatomi Nation general ledger auditor April Sitton completed the test in October 2020 and became a CPA, joining the Tribe’s CFO as department staff with the credentials.
The Choctaw Nation citizen graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 2013.
“I fell in love with my first accounting class — financial accounting,” Sitton said. “I loved it, loved it. I loved the debits, I loved the credits, and I loved how it was set in stone. Like there was no gray areas, at least at that point.”
She then completed a master’s in business administration in 2015 and counts this new certification as the next major step in her professional development.
“It’s given me more responsibilities here because I do have that certificate that proves I do know what I’m doing — hopefully,” Sitton said and laughed.
“It keeps me busy, and then it’s also just nice to feel that I’m trusted with what I got and that I can do my job.”
She intended to begin preparing for the exam in 2016, but as a mother of five, time evaded her. Sitton’s intense studying started in summer 2019 with the completion of all four tests a year and a half later. Stacks of index cards and notebooks lined her bags everywhere she went. She downloaded three apps to study whenever a moment came and fell asleep to accounting audiobooks at night.
“You do have to know a lot of formulas and stuff, but a lot of it’s memorization. And then I don’t think I ever wrote that much in my life. My hand hurt at times, but I had to spend more time studying as well,” Sitton said.
Working for a Tribe with varied services, enterprises and funding mechanisms has proven interesting and insightful for her. Sitton joined the accounting department as a general ledger accountant in 2014. Her co-workers supported and encouraged her while she continued school and the CPA certification. Sitton now gives her knowledge back.
“I want to be the best at my job, and having my CPA means that I am knowledgeable in all those areas, and I want to be able to give my job … all I can to help the Tribe grow, help the Tribe succeed and help in anything I can,” she said.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, Sitton hopes to inspire her children as well.
“I want to show my kids that you can set your mind to anything and get it done, even if you do have a dozen other things going on in your life,” she said.
Her quest for knowledge continues as she frequently tunes into webinars and takes courses to sharpen her skills. More certifications remain on the horizon; however, she plans to enjoy her accomplishment for a while before tackling the next.
“It’s a hard test. And I’m really glad I’m done — so relieved,” Sitton said.