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Student scores rare honor by passing national fraud examination

October 04, 2010 12:00AM

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Alexa Keller, a senior finance and accounting major, is only the second student to attempt and pass the national Certified Fraud Examination.

A fter

"
Her accomplishment demonstrates initiative and a commitment to professional development. I hope other students in our program will follow her good example. "
~ Dr. David O'Bryan
putting in a hefty amount of study time this summer, Alexa Keller was nervously optimistic when she sat down to take the national Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) examination.

It wasn't the examination's notorious difficulty. Instead, her nerves were due to precedence: so far, only one other PSU student has attempted to take the test (Mwansa Mulenga, who passed it successfully, now works for corporate Wal-Mart), with most attempting it only after gaining professional experience.

"We just don't see a lot of our students attempting a professional certification of this difficulty," said Rebecca Casey, chairwoman of the Department of Accounting and Computer Information Systems. "Many of them prefer to wait until they've accrued enough professional experience, so they feel more confident when tackling this difficult exam." 

But imagine Keller's reaction when she learned she'd passed, as well.

"I couldn't wait to tell my fraud examination teacher," said Keller, a senior finance and accounting major from Frontenac. "I think this will help me while I'm trying to get a job. I've had a few interviews already and they each mentioned that for me to pass this was impressive."

The examination, which can only be passed when the tester scores at least 80 percent on all four parts, is how professional fraud examiners gain certification to work in the areas of forensic accounting and fraud-related auditing. With fraud examination as a new minor at PSU, careers in uncovering white-collar crime have received national attention in the past several years, resulting in increased student interest.

"Successful completion of a professional certification like the CFE is an ideal way for our majors to distinguish themselves from other applicants, especially in a tight job market," said Dr. David O'Bryan, Keller's adviser. "Her accomplishment demonstrates initiative and a commitment to professional development. I hope other students in our program will follow her good example."

For Keller, the motivation to take the exam now was financial, as well. Current students can take the exam for $350, while professionals must pay the full $800.

Her successful scores, along with her involvement in a long list of honors organizations, associations, and campus clubs at PSU, are resume-builders she hopes will land her a great job come graduation.

"Even if I don't find a job in fraud examination, I think this is still a good sign of determination," she said.

---Pitt State---

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