Top CPA Exam Scorer Katherine Griesemer on Studying, Work-Life Balance

July 19, 2019

Katherine Griesemer

At age 23, TSCPA member Katherine Griesemer, CPA already has an impressive list of achievements in her accounting career. She was a top student all through college at Lee University and received many awards, including three scholarships from TSCPA’s Educational and Memorial Foundation and a place in the Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges® for 2017. She graduated with a 4.0 GPA with her Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Bachelor of Science in Business, Finance Emphasis in 2017. This spring, Griesemer was awarded TSCPA’s John Glenn Award for being the top scorer on the CPA exam in Tennessee in 2018.

Griesemer currently resides in Ooltewah, Tenn. and is a member of TSCPA’s Chattanooga Chapter. She has been a member of TSCPA since 2013. She is passionate about nonprofit financial management and currently works as CFO, Assistant Director and Principal Touring Artist at Unity Dance Troupe in Cleveland, Tenn.

What drew you to the profession of accounting?

My mom, a former CPA, encouraged me to take a dual enrollment accounting class, which I did my sophomore year of high school. My professor, Dr. Hart, truly made accounting fun. With that experience and the knowledge that accounting can open a variety of opportunities, I decided to study accounting at the age of 15.

Why did you decide to join TSCPA?

I joined TSCPA as a student member while attending Lee University. The professors encouraged involvement in TSCPA and the accounting profession as a whole. Working as an intern to Lee University’s CFO Chris Conine, I was able to attend TSCPA events with my colleagues as well as apply for TSCPA scholarships.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to those currently studying for the CPA exam?

I wish there was a magic secret! The best training tool is time. Start early because cramming is impossible. Stick to a weekly study schedule and be consistent to avoid last minute stress. As Nike says: “Just do it”: Review ALL the material and do ALL the practice problems and tests. I created detailed outlines of the material to review instead of re-opening a huge review book with hundreds of pages, which feels overwhelming.

You have always been very active in school, work and your community. What is your advice for staying balanced?

Staying balanced is tricky! I saw 4 a.m. more times than I would have liked while studying for the CPA exam. My grandfather says if you enjoy what you do, you won't work a day in your life. Enjoy the process to fill each step of the journey with joy. If you remember the reason behind what you do, you will have all the passion and energy you need to accomplish it. On a practical note, it is important to have something you do just because you love it! For me, this is ballet. I enjoy the physical exertion and creating something beautiful. Finding your own version of ballet will help shed the stress of life and refuel you for what is next.

Where do you see yourself in your career in 10 years?

My ultimate goal is to build a network of sustainable funding sources to support orphanages in Eastern Europe. Whether or not this will happen in just 10 years, I am not sure, but hopefully in 10 years I will be on the path toward that end.

Originally published in the July/August 2019 Tennessee CPA Journal.