Grad student awarded prestigious accounting scholarship

A native of Cambodia, he is the first member of his family to graduate college

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Charlie Saur, a graduate student in the College of Business, has been awarded a $10,000 scholarship from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.
Charlie Saur, a graduate student in the College of Business, has been awarded a $10,000 scholarship from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.

KINGSTON, R.I., July 2, 2018 – When Cranston resident Charlie Saur graduated from the University of Rhode Island in May with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, it was the culmination of a tumultuous decade that he now describes as “too good to be true.”

A native of Cambodia who moved with his siblings to the United States when he was 14 years old, Saur became the first in his family to graduate from college. But he isn’t resting on his laurels. He is aiming to be a certified public account. And this fall he begins graduate study in the URI College of Business to earn a master’s degree in accounting.

His academic plans just received a boost with the announcement that he has been awarded a $10,000 scholarship from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.

“I am so very thankful to the PCAOB for choosing me for this scholarship,” Saur said. “It’s a great opportunity for me. And while the money will help me attend grad school, it’s the prestige that comes with it that makes me especially proud.”

The annual scholarship encourages outstanding undergraduate and graduate business students to pursue careers in auditing.

Saur, 25, grew up in what he described as “a business-oriented family” — his parents started a custom jewelry manufacturing business in Cambodia, which they still operate. So he knew early on that he wanted to pursue a career in business.

“I’ve always been interested in business and how it works, and since accounting is the language of business, that’s what I decided to study,” he said.

When Saur first came to the U.S., however, he couldn’t imagine what his future would hold.

“I was just a culturally confused kid who didn’t speak a word of English,” he wrote in his scholarship application. “All I knew was that if I was going to make something out of myself, I was going to study hard and give it my all, while embracing the values that my parents instilled in me. I knew that education was the first step.”

After transferring to URI to begin his junior year, Saur took advantage of every opportunity to gain experience and prepare himself for his career. He took Chinese language classes and spent a semester in China, thanks to a scholarship from the Confucius Institute. He served as an auditing intern at Johnston-based mutual insurance company FM Global, providing him with his first chance to apply his classroom lessons to the business world. And he shared his knowledge with others as a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, URI’s business fraternity.

“I made the right choice to transfer to URI,” he said. “It has a lot to offer to students, it has a great business program, especially in accounting, and there are plenty of opportunities for jobs in the area. And the faculty are great. If it wasn’t for the efforts and the attention given by the faculty, it would have been hard to get to where I am today.”

The URI faculty have plenty of kind words for Saur as well.

In nominating Saur for the scholarship, URI Accounting Professor Judy Beckman wrote, “His aptitude is not only evidenced by his near perfect grade point average, but also because Charlie brings to the classroom and his dealings with others both a positive and helpful attitude. He is engaged in every class, is always thoroughly prepared, and works with other students to help them improve their learning achievements.”

This summer, Saur is interning at Ernst and Young, one of the world’s largest accounting firms. He hopes to eventually be offered a job at the company and work at its Los Angeles office to be closer to his siblings, who live there.

“It’s a huge honor to go to URI and to get the PCAOB scholarship,” Saur concluded. “Once I get my master’s degree and then my CPA, I can do anything.”