Husker students win two national accounting competitions in less than year

· 5 min read

Husker students win two national accounting competitions in less than year

Ten students pose with a giant check and a glass trophy on a staircase.
Murengezi Atali Benimana | Business
Husker students won two national accounting competitions hosted by Deloitte over the past year. The 2023 audit national champions are (back row, from left) Cole Frye, Alex Nguyen and Bruno Weiss Salles; (front row, from left) Alvan Tran and Morgan Wallinger. The 2024 tax national champions are (back row, fourth from left to right) William Wood, Ethan Heinemann and Ethan Twesme; (front row, third from left to right) Trinity Hansen and Ava Hollingsworth.

A team of University of Nebraska–Lincoln accounting students recently won the 22nd annual Deloitte FanTAXtic National Case Study Competition, presenting analysis of a complex, issues-driven business tax case.

The win follows the university’s top finish in the eighth annual Deloitte National Audit Innovation Campus Challenge in April 2023. In that contest, teams were asked to consider accounting’s role in driving rigor and discipline with environmental, social and governance reporting.

Unaware that a Nebraska team won last year’s audit competition, the tax team faced off against 16 teams and experienced a roller coaster ending.

“They announced that the University of Nebraska–Lincoln won, and I screamed and jumped up to the stage with my teammates,” said Ethan Twesme, a member of the tax team. “We were surprised but knew our team chemistry and presentation skills carried us to our win. Finding out we were the second team of Huskers to win nationally made it even better.”

Debra Cosgrove, professor of practice in accountancy, advised the audit team, and Kathryn Maresh, assistant professor of practice in accountancy, advised the tax team. Cosgrove said she believes the recipe for their students’ success includes stretching their strengths, healthy collaboration and not being afraid to put in the prep work to be competition ready.

“We are incredibly proud of these students for their hard work, putting in nearly 400 hours to prepare,” Cosgrove said. “They played to their strengths. Some were better at research, some better at creative thinking, some better at writing, and some better at working on the presentation. Everyone was solely focused on performing to the best of their ability. They were very open to constructive feedback and became good friends along the way. They were surprisingly candid when critiquing each other during presentation rehearsals.”

The teams won $2,000 for each student and two $10,000 prizes for the School of Accountancy, for a total of $40,000. They also further built their technical competencies and explored practical issues accounting professionals encounter every day.

Seven students and their adviser pose with a giant check and a glass trophy, holding up their index fingers to signal that they are "No. 1."
The Nebraska team celebrates its win in the 2024 Deloitte FanTAXtic National Case Study Competition.

“These case competitions provide an exceptional platform for our students to cultivate invaluable relationships with peers, faculty and professionals at Deloitte while gaining practical experience,” Maresh said. “We are thankful for the opportunity to engage in these competitions and for Deloitte’s unwavering commitment to this program.”

Megan Boyer, senior campus recruiter for Deloitte, attended Nebraska’s practice meetings and helped both teams navigate their competitions at Deloitte University in Westlake, Texas. She said the competitors displayed skills she has come to expect from Nebraska accounting graduates.

“As a recruiter, what I appreciate about Nebraska graduates is their level of preparedness,” she said. “They come from an academic program that provides a solid foundation of strong technical skills, but also cultivates critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. They communicate well and work very effectively in teams. These qualities make them well-rounded candidates.”

Bruno Weiss Salles said the audit challenge was his first opportunity to participate in a case competition.

“It is an amazing opportunity that challenges you and helps you gain valuable experience and perspective,” he said. “It also shows that you are willing to take risks, work hard and pursue excellence — qualities highly valued by employers and graduate schools. I highly recommend taking advantage of these opportunities to embrace the challenge, work hard and enjoy the experience. Who knows? You may surprise yourself and achieve something remarkable.”

Morgan Wallinger, a member of the audit team who graduated last December, shared how meaningful it was to win a national title for Nebraska.

“This is a huge accomplishment for our School of Accountancy and shows Nebraska Business continues to be a national leader in providing high-quality education and real-life experiences for students,” she said.

Members of Nebraska’s winning 2023 audit team were:

  • Cole Frye, senior accounting major from Ashland
  • Alex Nguyen, junior accounting major from Lincoln
  • Alvan Tran, senior accounting major from Lincoln
  • Morgan Wallinger, December 2023 graduate with a Master of Professional Accountancy from Stuart
  • Bruno Weiss Salles, junior accounting major from Porto Alegre, Brazil

Members of Nebraska’s winning 2024 tax team were:

  • Trinity Hansen, junior accounting major from Stapleton
  • Ethan Heinemann, junior accounting major from Bennington
  • Ava Hollingsworth, sophomore accounting, finance and computer science major from Omaha
  • Ethan Twesme, sophomore accounting and finance major from Monument, Colorado
  • William Wooden, sophomore accounting major from Kansas City, Missouri

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