UTPA Accounting Team Brings Home National Audit Case Title

Making the case for how auditors should handle renewable gambling licenses, the five-woman University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) accounting team brought home the national title for the second straight year in the ALPHA/KPMG Audit Case Study competition. The team’s appearance in the finals may have been automatic but their victory, over the eight other teams that had advanced through regional competitions, was not.

Team Captain Olivia Lopez and team members Nereyda Bartolo, Mariela Molina, Amy Claudette Guerra-Ochoa and Gloria Proa to deliver what judges called a passionate presentation according to The Monitor. John Darcy, an assistant professor of accounting and business law told The Monitor that the team distinguished itself by the depth of their research.

“These students weren’t just content to find an answer,” The Monitor quotes Darcy as saying. “They kept on asking questions of each other until they got down to the very fundamentals of the question.”

Getting to the point where they has their case question covered so completely the judges didn’t even ask any questions after their presentation took considerable time, effort and teamwork. They met whenever they could between classes and work, even on weekends. They also solicited outside help. Associate professor of communications Dora Saavedra helped them perfect their presentation and hone their presentation skills. A local auditing firm also critiques their case study according to the Monitor.

“We went up there as professionals,” Mariela Molina told the Monitor. “We knew what we were saying, and just looked at the judges as professional CPAs.”

All the members of this year’s team will graduate over the next two school years and plan to work in the tax or auditing field or pursue their masters’ degrees. The Monitor reports that representatives from the competition’s co-sponsor KPMG and one of the judging bodies, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) have already requested resumes from team members in addition to offering to fly them in for interviews.

Also competing in the finals were teams representing

  • Georgia State
  • University of St. Thomas
  • St. John’s University
  • Arizona State University
  • San Diego State
  • University of Texas – Austin
  • University of Arizona
  • Florida International University (host)

The National Competition was held August 8 on the Florida International University campus in Miami, Florida. It is co-sponsored by the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA) and KPMG. ALPFA is the leading professional association dedicated to enhancing opportunities for Latinos in the accounting, finance and related professions. KPMG is one of the “Big Four” auditing companies.

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