LOGAN – Black rimmed glasses, blue ballpoint pen penetrating the chest pocket of a white button down shirt, polishing their resume in an office cubicle crunching numbers at the same time. Sounds like the typical accountant, right? When it comes to Utah State University students Andrew Loaiza, a charming young man with thick black hair and a brilliant smile, and Ana-Maria Gines, an accomplished Romanian woman with a sparkle to her eye, the stereotype couldn’t be any more wrong.
USU’s Beta Alpha Psi accounting organization, a charter from the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, won first place in two out of the three categories offered at the Deloitte Best Practices Competition in Denver, Colo. Deloitte, one of the main big four accounting firms in the world, sponsors this competition all over the country annually.
Different chapters of Beta Alpha Psi from universities located across the country are allowed to compete in any of the three categories given. Because nationals will be held in Anaheim, California, home of Disneyland, the categories were Disney-themed such as Imagination, Innovation, and Inspiration. USU’s chapter entered Innovation and Imagination and will continue on to nationals in August.
During an interview with Loaiza and Gines, two out of the eight presenters, and their faculty advisor Bonnie Villarreal, the humble organization demonstrated that they are so much more than a group of intelligent accountants that are good with numbers.
The group wants to emphasize the true meaning of accounting. Beta Alpha Psi is an international honors society with the aim to bridge the gap between accounting students and professionals. Take their entry projects, for example. For the Innovation category, the Beta Alpha Psi students taught technical principals and skills to a non-technical audience, such as 13-year-old Boy Scouts.
The seminar was a success as they taught the Boy Scouts tips on budgeting, keeping track of revenue and expenses, and time management. In return, the Boy Scouts could then earn a merit badge. Loaiza stated that the project had enough humor to keep the crowd entertained but at the same time understand.
“It was really fun and accomplished the purpose,” Loaiza said. “I feel like we overcame that accounting stereotype.”
For the Imagination portion, the club held a workshop on the proper way to approach and write cover letters. It was a learning experience for everyone involved. The group brought in professionals that taught how to adjust their cover letters for specific jobs and companies. A competition was held to see who could produce the best-written cover letter, with a cash prize for the winner.
In a team effort, USU’s Beta Alpha Psi won a $1,000 cash prize which will come back to the USU chapter. At nationals, they will have the opportunity to win $3,000 in cash as they compete against the other first place teams from the eight other regions.
As one of the presenters for the Imagination project, Gines gave some last minute advice to future accounting students.
“My advice is to get involved in the different accounting clubs and organizations that your university has to offer and expand your networking opportunities.”
<span>Douglas Ward, Jenalyn Meldrum, and Matthew Parker made up the team that presented in the </span>imagination category, while the innovation presentation team included Gines, Loaiza, and Matthew Miles. Club president Jesse Hamilton and treasurer Amy Chanthalyxay also presented the group’s VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) clinic in non-competition, to assist other chapters in developing similar programs.