Dreamers and Believers

OWU students reach top 20 in AICPA competition
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Editor’s Note: The AICPA competition has revved up, and the general public—and especially the OWU community—now can vote for videos produced by OWU’s The Dream Team and Dream Chasers from November 8-14. Your views will count toward the public vote in this very competitive selection process.

(Image courtesy of the American Institute of CPAs)

The Dream Team and Dream Chasers may conjure up images of sports teams or, for some, a spacecraft of the future.

But closer to Ohio Wesleyan’s world, they are the names of two student teams that recently have placed in the top 20 in a national accounting competition sponsored annually by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)—out of close to 300 entering teams. And their advisor, Justin Breidenbach, assistant professor of accounting, couldn’t be more proud. Putting out the word to students about this competition, he was pleased to have eight people respond. Two teams of four were created, each with a designated captain. And then they went to work on this year’s case study.

“It is election focused,” says Breidenbach. “Each team served as a consulting firm working with the presidential candidate of their choice, trying to inform the top three issues of concern for Americans—social security, tax reform, and dealing with the deficit.” The teams selected two of those issues. Dream Chasers, comprised mostly of underclassmen, picked social security reform and the national debt and The Dream Team with most upperclassmen, also chose social security as well as the tax reform issue.

“Teams were asked to develop a 1,000 word memo focused on what they would do to remedy their chosen issues,” says Breidenbach. The memos were reviewed by a panel of judges including AICPA members, and people representing higher education and government. They were asked to pick the top 20 teams, and both of OWU’s are among those selected.

“The next step is for them to create a five to six-minute video expanding on what they wrote in their memos, while bringing in more research,” says Breidenbach. These videos, to be submitted by November 5, will be uploaded to YouTube on November 8 with a link to the AICPA web site, after which, the viewing public can vote for their favorites and “Like” them. Based on the next round of decisions (10 percent from viewers and the remaining 90 percent from judges) the top three videos will be selected.

“At this stage, the teams will receive an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. in December, to present their videos to the judging team,” says Breidenbach. Judges may include people from high-end accounting firms and other government dignitaries. The team winning first place will receive a cash prize of $10,000 and those honored with second and third place selections will win $5,000 and $2,500 respectively. But the potential monetary prize money is not the only benefit of each team’s competition experiences.

“This competition is opening our students’ eyes up to what is out there for them in the accounting area,” says Breidenbach. There are possibilities they may never have thought about.” Breidenbach, who taught at Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio, before coming to OWU this past year, also has experience in public accounting. He knows that at times, accounting majors wrestle with what specific areas to work toward career-wise. “Our students are seeing that accounting is not just the numbers, but also the theories behind the numbers and what those numbers tell us. They are learning to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions that work.” says Breidenbach.

Members of The Dream Team are: Cody Reinsel ’13, Stephen Coyne ’14, Jon Stegner ’14, and Lewis (Tilghman) Strudwick ’13; members of Dream Chasers are: Steven Uhler ’15, Josh Townsend ’15, Marisa Lucian ’15, and Jamie Richardson ’15.

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