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Nebraska First to Win Two National Accounting Competitions

Huskers Reign as Champions in Audit and Tax
Nebraska First to Win Two National Accounting Competitions
Students representing the University of Nebraska–Lincoln won two national accounting competitions hosted by Deloitte over this past year. The national champions are (front row, from left) Alvan Tran, Morgan Wallinger, Trinity Hansen, Ava Hollingsworth, (back row, from left) Cole Frye, Alex Nguyen, Bruno Weiss Salles, William Wood, Ethan Heinemann and Ethan Twesme.

Two teams of accounting majors at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln accomplished a feat no other university has achieved. In less than a year, they won two of the four national case competitions for undergraduates hosted by Deloitte.

Deloitte Winners
The Nebraska team celebrates their win in the Deloitte FanTAXtic National Case Study Competition.

Last April, Huskers took first place in the eighth annual Deloitte National Audit Innovation Campus Challenge, where they were asked to consider the profession's role in driving rigor and discipline with environmental, social and governance reporting. Then in January, Nebraska won Deloitte's 22nd annual FanTAXtic National Case Study Competition, in which the team presented the best analysis on a complex, issues-driven business tax case.

Unaware a Nebraska team recently won Deloitte's audit competition, the tax team faced off against 16 teams and experienced a roller coaster ending.

Ethan Twesme, a member of the tax team, said, "They announced that the University of Nebraska–Lincoln won, and I screamed and jumped up to the stage with my teammates. 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 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. 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,” Cosgrove said. “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 in competition prizes from Deloitte. They also further built their technical competencies and explored practical issues accounting professionals encounter every day.

“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 held at Deloitte University in Westlake, Texas. She shared how the competitors displayed skills she has come to expect from Nebraska accounting graduates.

Deloitte Winners
Nebraska's audit team won Deloitte's National Audit Innovation Challenge.

“As a recruiter, what I appreciate about Nebraska graduates is their level of preparedness. 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,” Boyer said.

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

“Participating in a case competition is an amazing opportunity that challenges you and helps you gain valuable experience and perspective. It also shows that you are willing to take risks, work hard and pursue excellence — qualities highly valued by employers and graduate schools,” he said. “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.”

Beyond the achievement, Morgan Wallinger shared how meaningful it was to win one of the two national titles 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,” said Wallinger.

The 2023 National Audit Innovation Campus Challenge winners were:
  • Cole Frye, senior accounting major from Ashland, Nebraska
  • Alex Nguyen, junior accounting major from Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Alvan Tran, senior accounting major from Lincoln
  • Morgan Wallinger, '23, Master of Professional Accountancy student from Stuart, Nebraska
  • Bruno Weiss Salles, junior accounting major from Porto Alegre, Brazil
The 2024 National FanTAXTic Business Case Competition winners were:
  • Trinity Hansen, junior accounting major from Stapleton, Nebraska
  • Ethan Heinemann, junior accounting major from Bennington, Nebraska
  • Ava Hollingsworth, sophomore accounting, finance and computer science major from Omaha, Nebraska
  • Ethan Twesme, sophomore accounting and finance major from Monument, Colorado
  • William Wooden, sophomore accounting major from Kansas City, Missouri
Published: March 28, 2024