By Rachel Bruner
Chris Battraw describes himself as a wild train – a man who runs off schedule.
He dropped out of high school at 16 and was known by his parents as a troublemaker.
“I was just a brat growing up,” Battraw said.
Now at 26, that title takes on a different meaning. Battraw graduated May 12 as an honors student from Metropolitan State University of Denver, with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting.
Oh, and he’s already passed three parts of the four-part Certified Public Accountancy exam – a feat most students don’t even consider attempting until after graduation.
After dropping out of high school, Battraw worked various jobs until, at 18, he realized he needed to find a better career. He earned a GED certificate and found MSU Denver’s accounting program after researching various accounting career paths.
College proved to be a good fit for him. While at MSU Denver, Battraw received numerous scholarships, was active in several professional accounting organizations, and was recently awarded the Outstanding Student Award in the Master of Professional Accountancy program.
“In presenting him the award, I referred to him as ‘Can Do Chris’ because that's the way he is,” said David Dirks, a lecturer in the Accounting Department.
The reward of hard work, however, did not come without challenges. Part of the reason Battraw struggled in high school, he said, is because lectures were hard for him to follow. He quickly learned he would have to come to class having already read the next week’s assignment in order to understand the lecture.
“I retain lectures best when they make sense with what I already know,” Battraw said.
Battraw has passed on his knowledge to fellow students as a tutor in MSU Denver’s Tutoring Center, and currently as a graduate teaching assistant of an accounting ethics course and lecturer of an accounting principles course through one of his master’s classes. He encourages future students to keep in touch with their professors and to always be eager to learn and get involved.
“Students must be dedicated or have some goal they want to accomplish with school,” Battraw said.
His goal at MSU Denver was to stand out, and in graduating, to find a better career. He’s now on that pathway, having secured a full-time position as an external auditor for Kundinger, Corder & Engle, P.C., an accounting and auditing firm serving the nonprofit sector.
He said the greatest support he’s received is from his faith in God and the wisdom from his elders, his mother and his father, who pushed him to go back to school.
“Though I was a wild train with my family growing up – and may still be sometimes – my father has always been the hard-working provider for us, while always telling me to go to school for a better future,” Battraw said.
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