Elizabeth Almer, CPA, PhD
Professor of Accounting
Portland State University
OSCPA member since: 2007
How has the CPA credential defined your career so far?
Being a CPA is a large part of my professional identity. Although it has been a long time since I practiced as a CPA, I strongly identify with the importance of the profession and really believe it is my vocation to help others achieve certification. CPAs are integral to ensuring a functioning economy and the CPA designation is the "golden ticket" for our students to achieve a successful and stable career which benefits them and their families. I experienced firsthand the benefits of a CPA, and now I want my students to have that as well.
Who inspired you along the way?
When I came to Portland State in 2001, my colleague Ray Johnson (longtime Oregon CPA and OSCPA member) became my mentor and friend. Now several years into retirement, his dedication to the profession and our students continues to inspire me to this day.
What’s the best part of your job/what do you love about your job?
The best parts of my job have to do with my students. There are very few professions where you can say that you regularly play a part in transforming someone else's life. There are the little victories of helping students understand technically challenging topics and there are the big victories when students graduate and go on to have successful careers. PSU students are largely first generation college students so the opportunities provided by an accounting degree really do have the potential to transform their lives.
How has being an OSCPA member and serving on the Foundation benefitted you?
Perhaps because I still do so strongly identify with the CPA credential, the OSCPA and Foundation have afforded the opportunity to stay more closely connected to the profession and to form meaningful relationships with practitioners who I'd likely not have interacted with if I'd just kept to my academic corner of the world.
What advice would you give a new CPA?
Realize that in your first few years, your job is to simply work as hard as you can and learn as much as possible. View each challenge as an opportunity to grow.
What are you reading/listening to these days?
Right before the start of the pandemic I read Creating a Path to Success in the Classroom: Teaching to Close the Graduation Gap for Minority, First-Generation and Academically Unprepared Students. The timing couldn't have been better since it tremendously impacted how I pivoted my classes to a virtual format. Otherwise I have been reading a lot of books set in World War II Europe. Both my late parents fled Nazi Germany as children and these books have helped me continue to understand my family's experiences. I'd highly recommend Beneath a Scarlet Sky, The Ritchie Boys, Those Who Saved Us.
What do you look forward to post-pandemic?
While it has been a gift to be able to spend more time with my husband Anthony (also a CPA!) during the pandemic, I can't wait to be able to hug extended family and friends.