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Student Earns First Place in SIU Accounting Challenge

 Accounting PhotoOlney Central College student Nick Amerman captured first place in the 16th Annual Accounting Challenge at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Amerman, of Noble, received both a trophy and a $500 scholarship to SIU’s School of Accounting as the top finisher in the written accounting test.

“It was fun participating in the competition,” Amerman said. “I was excited when I found out I won. I felt like I knew what I was doing when I went there and I was feeling very confident. I’ve already been accepted to SIU and it was a good experience.”

This is the first time OCC has participated in the challenge for high school and community colleges. More than 400 students competed in the individual test and team event. Amerman attended the competition with Accounting Instructor John Kendall and fellow OCC student Joe Nelson, of Olney.

Kendall said the test changes each year so students never know what to study ahead of time. They also cannot use calculators during the competition.

“We are thrilled,” he said of Amerman’s accomplishment. “This experience at Carbondale is an affirmation of what we do at OCC.” 

Accounting Instructor Kristi Urfer said OCC’s accounting students continually excel after graduation. Kendall noted an OCC graduate was among the SIU students grading the competition tests.

“I think our students benefit from the smaller class sizes and take more away from them,” Kendall said. “The classes get them ready to go to work or on to a university.”

Urfer stressed she and Kendall work on problems in class with the students to ensure they understand concepts and to address questions as they arise.

“I think the competition results show this approach is paying off,” she added.

Amerman and Nelson also participated in the group competition, which required students to use a chair and a newspaper to construct a bridge that could hold a cup of water. Entries were judged on the construction’s length and strength.

“The team challenge has nothing to do with accounting, but focuses on teamwork, creativity and problem-solving skills,” Kendall added.

Kendall said the event gave students the chance to visit SIU, to learn more about the programs in the School of Business and to meet department members.

“It was a good experience,” said Nelson, who plans to major in marketing at SIU. “I would recommend it to any business student. It was a good way to get to know more. I had an opportunity to make contacts and to get information about scholarships to specific departments."

Kendall hopes even more students will participate next year. He would like to include students not only from OCC, but the other Illinois Eastern Community Colleges — Frontier Community, Lincoln Trail and Wabash Valley — as well. In the future, Kendall would like to institute a similar competition at OCC. “Our students had a great experience and I would like to bring that here for the local high school students,” 

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