When a beloved Surgent team member passed away in 2021, we wanted to honor his legacy and commitment to educating the next generation of accounting and finance professionals. We created a semi-annual scholarship that would be awarded to students aspiring to a career in accounting or financial services.  The Paul Wiese Bridge Builder Scholarship Award represents Surgent’s commitment to the learning and development of students to achieve a thriving career. Paul was committed to supporting students in their career aspirations, so it was fitting to name this award in his honor. 

As we reviewed the multitude of video submissions we received, we were inspired by the ways in which students are embracing the challenges of today and encouraged by their drive to make a meaningful impact in their career. Surgent is proud to announce that we have selected Lydia McLuen as the recipient of the first Paul Wiese Bridge Builder Scholarship Award.  

Lydia’s compelling video described how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted her career in the restaurant industry. She worked as a bartender in college as she pursued a bachelor’s degree in linguistics at Portland State University. Lydia became a bar manager and was planning on becoming a restaurant owner until COVID-19 caused her to re-evaluate her career aspirations. 

“The pandemic changed everything and it opened my eyes to the less rosy side of restaurant ownership,” Lydia said in her video submission. “At the time, I had become a bar manager and I was planning on becoming a restaurant owner. I saw mentors lose their livelihoods and close their businesses.” 

Lydia decided she needed to change course and wanted to find a new path to pursue.  

“I reflected on my strengths,” Lydia said. “Beyond bartending, menu creation and management, I have a knack for spreadsheets. I decided to lean into that and reshaped my dream. 

She decided to seek advice from her Aunt Carol, who recently retired from a successful career in accounting. 

“She told me not to fear and that accounting had so many surprising similarities to bartending and hospitality,” Lydia said. “She took pride in helping people understand the language of taxes and money. She described a career of connecting to people by helping them sort through their financial situations. Carol assured me that it would be worth it and to believe in myself and the process.” 

Lydia currently is a post-baccalaureate student studying at Portland State University. Her goal is to become a CPA and run an accounting firm specializing in restaurant operations. In order to achieve her goals, Lydia realized she needed some help.  

“Surgent CPA Exam Prep would be life changing for me,” she said. “Asking for help is never a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength. The truth is with Surgent’s help I am confident that I could pass the CPA Exam.” 

As the Paul Wiese Bridge Builder Scholarship Award winner, Lydia received a certificate, $2,500 cash prize, Surgent-branded T-shirt, Yeti, notebook, pen, folder, notepad and free access to our Ultimate Pass review course, a $2,999 value. 

Paul Wiese was an inspiring individual who loved to help students succeed. Paul oversaw Surgent’s university relationships and global partners, providing innovative e-learning solutions to accounting and finance students as well as faculty.  

Surgent’s scholarship award program is open to all currently enrolled business students working toward an accounting or finance major and attending an accredited college or university within the United States. If chosen as our scholarship winner you receive a $2,500 cash prize and a free exam prep course for the credential or certification of your choice: CPA, CMA or EA. 

We are now accepting Fall 2022 applications for the next Paul Wiese Bridge Builder Scholarship Award. The due date for submissions is Nov. 30. 

Lydia’s passion for leadership and determination to revitalize the restaurant industry set her apart and we are excited to help support her journey. 

“The future is bright and I’m ready for it,” she said. 

Learn more about Surgent CPA Review and take your accounting career to the next level.