Author: Mia Griggs, NASBA Communications Intern
Accountants are very smart, analytical people. A select few are also very athletic. Yes, that’s right! Despite enjoying discussions about credits and debits, crunching numbers, and studying liabilities and assets in college, two female Olympians, Gwen Jorgensen (triathlete) and Stacey Lewis (golfer), switched gears in hopes of earning a gold medal in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
The title of "CPA" next to Gwen Jorgensen’s name may look strange to most Americans, but not to those in the accounting profession. Jorgensen majored in Accounting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison while also competing as a college swimmer and runner. She dreamed as a teen of becoming an Olympic swimmer and winning medals, but her dreams slowly diminished after failing to qualify for the Junior Olympic teams or making the team in college.
With her athletic dreams on hold, Jorgensen focused on developing her professional career. She graduated, went on to earn a Master’s in Accounting and passed the CPA Exam. Taxes became Jorgensen’s new subject matter. This college athlete changed direction from athletics to becoming a full-time tax accountant with Ernst & Young (EY). In this role, Jorgensen enjoyed searching for tax codes and found the order of debits and credits intriguing.
It’s true…no matter what you do in life, you must do it to the best of your ability. Jorgensen’s hard work didn’t go unnoticed. One day, she received a phone call that altered her mindset and brought her back to her dream as a teen. Barb Lindquist (former U.S. Olympic triathlete) called Jorgensen to discuss the potential she possessed of becoming a star triathlete. Her running and swimming throughout college proved she was a good candidate for the three sport game.
Jorgensen’s knack for numbers would soon change from taxes to time caps and statistics. Since stepping away from the accounting profession, she has become the most dominant and consistent athlete in her sport. The former EY accountant is the 2014 and 2016 International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Champion. She’s the first woman to win a World Triathlete Series, and recently Jorgensen led the U.S. to its first ever (ITU) Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championship on July 17, 2016, in Hamburg, Germany. For a sport that didn’t peak her interest, Jorgensen’s accomplishments speak otherwise.
Contrary to Jorgensen, Stacey Lewis declined an offer from KPMG to work as an auditor for a life as a professional golfer. Despite turning KPMG down, the accounting degree holder is still connected to the profession. Lewis began playing golf at the age of eight, but this wasn’t an easy task for the young Lewis as she wore a back brace for 18-hours a day for seven and a half years due to sclerosis. In fact, Lewis only removed her brace to play golf. She later decided to proceed with surgery and as a result, missed her first season as a golfer at the University of Arkansas. Her recovery went well and the following season she was named the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Freshman Golfer of the Year. Lewis graduated from the university with a degree in Finance and Accounting. This number cruncher has taken the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) by storm. Lewis was the first American to win LPGA Player of the Year award since 1994 and the first American in 19 years to win the Vare Trophy. To add to her list of accomplishments, she was the 2012 and 2014 Rolex Player of the Year.
Lewis has partnered with KMPG to host an annual KPMG Stacey Lewis Junior All-Star Invitational for young golfers. The tournament is held every summer in Arkansas for boys and girls between the ages of 12-15.
Jorgensen gained experience as an accountant and CPA while Lewis traveled a slightly different path, turning down KPMG only to reconnect with the Big Four accounting firm years later. Two women with similar interests, taking two different paths toward achievement.
The 2016 Summer Olympic Games have already come and gone, and Jorgensen and Lewis have shown what it takes to have the dedication and patience needed to accomplish dreams. Jorgensen won a gold medal for the Triathlon event at the Rio Olympic games, and Lewis finished just short of a bronze medal for the Olympic golf tournament.
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