Alumnus to Participate in Governmental Accounting Standards Board Program

Stephen Bratcher ’23 MAcc ’24 is one of the seven students nationally selected for the Governmental Accounting Standards Board’s PTA Program.

Every year, more than 200 students are nominated for the Governmental Accounting Standards Board’s (GASB) Postgraduate Technical Assistant (PTA) Program. Only 12 out of the 200 or more nominations are called to go through the interview process. Out of those 12 students, only seven in the nation are offered the job. 

Double Hatter Stephen Bratcher was one of those seven students, and the first ever Stetson graduate, to get selected for the position. 

“It’s a huge honor,” he said. “Schools across the country can nominate one student to participate in the program, either for the summer or the winter, and being that one student means so much to me. Having Dr. (Erin) Nickell recommend me for that really felt like I was being recognized, and it increased my confidence to the point I felt I was on the right track. Getting the opportunity was unbelievable.”

Unbelievable and unexpected. That’s how Bratcher recalls the moment he received the call at around 7 p.m. on a Friday night while at home a couple months back.

“It means a lot to me,” he said. “Thinking of that call, the first thing I heard was ‘I got good news for you.’ I am fortunate enough to have found a niche that I am interested in in accounting.” 

Bratcher, 23, earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting in May 2023, and graduated from the Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program this past May. With both degrees, he earned a 4.0 GPA. Bratcher will be participating in GASB’s summer program, which takes place in Connecticut, where he will reside for a year starting July 8.  

“This is a huge change from me,” he said. “It’s a year in another state. I’ve never left Florida before. I’ve always lived in the same house.” 

Erin Nickell, PhD

The opportunity does not only reflect Bratcher’s character and determination to make a difference but also, it brings Stetson into the GASB’s radar when future recommendations are received. 

“Once a student is offered a PTA position, it raises the profile of the institution and increases the opportunities for future students,” said Erin Nickell, PhD, Director of the MAcc program and associate professor of accounting. “The fact that a Stetson student got an interview, it’s amazing. The fact that they were offered the role, it’s incredible. Stephen is humble and incredibly knowledgeable. He is so very focused on the contributions that he would like to make to the profession. He doesn’t just want to join the workforce; he wants to make a difference in the world through his profession.”

What Set Him Apart

As a Postgraduate Technical Assistant, Bratcher will work in either major agenda projects or short-term practice and implementation issues. 

According to the GASB website, regardless of the project he is assigned to, he will engage in all phases of it which include “analyzing written submissions received on documents issued for public comment, reviewing and analyzing published research, preparing memorandums on technical issues for Board members’ information, drafting due process documents, and evaluating accounting proposals for other organizations.” 

Through internship opportunities while being an undergraduate student at Stetson, he realized that being an accountant means so much more than just taxes and numbers. 

“Tax didn’t click with me,” he said. “It wasn’t the kind of work I wanted to be doing, and it didn’t feel like I was helping the kind of people I wanted to be helping.” 

Bratcher: “I deeply value giving to my community and find great fulfillment in volunteering to help those in need.”

That’s when he set out to find a job that truly allowed him to convey his passion of helping others through his career. He became an auditor for the DeLand office of the Florida Auditor General, where he worked for two years. 

“Working in that job really showed me what the government sector can do,” he said. “Every day felt meaningful.”

This was precisely what Bratcher conveyed in his essay. 

“I deeply value giving to my community and find great fulfillment in volunteering to help those in need,” he wrote. “It has been immensely rewarding to be able to dedicate my talents to the causes I support.”

The Mind Within the Hat

Bratcher was born and raised in Lady Lake and attended Leesburg High School. A transfer student from Lake-Sumter State College, he always was interested in attending Stetson. 

Bratcher: “Change is constant; nothing is ever set in stone.”

“Transferring to Stetson was definitely an interesting experience, because I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “But, when I got here, within the first semester, the incredible amount of support I received from everyone really helped me understand how the traditional college experience works.” 

Fun fact about Bratcher? His first career choice was not accounting but instead, biomedical engineer.

“Eventually, I realized it wasn’t the environment for me,” he said. “I wanted to move into something business related, and accounting stood out to me because it seemed the most noble business route to my eyes.”

Through his years at Stetson, and as a professional accountant, Bratcher’s goals have shifted. After receiving the PTA position with the GASB, he now hopes that when the program is over, he can continue helping people possibly through the federal government level. 

“Change is constant; nothing is ever set in stone,” he said. “My path has become less clear after getting this position, but I’m thinking about taking a federal government job in Washington, D.C., or somewhere in that area.” 

– Andrea Mujica