2019 Scholarship Winners

I am thrilled to announce this year’s Excel University scholarship winners! These scholarships are supported by the Excel University Alumni Association, so thanks to all of you who have helped make these awards possible. Based on the number of Alumni Association members, I’m so happy to be able to award four scholarships this year!

Each will receive a cash award plus an enrollment to the Excel University Graduate Certification program.

All four recipients this year are terrific examples of the type of accounting student that the scholarship program was designed to assist. They are wonderful representations of the future of our profession. They are smart, hard-working, and highly recommended by their professors.

Congratulations to the 2019 Excel University Scholarship winners: Caroline, Camden, Morgan, and Katherine!

As part of the scholarship application, I asked for a short essay “Interesting Ways I’ve Used Excel.” I’d like to share portions of the essays as well.

Caroline

Caroline earned her B.S. in Accounting in 2019, and will earn her M.S. in Accounting in 2020 from the University of Texas at Dallas.

She has earned numerous awards and honors and has held leadership positions in the Accounting Club. Her professor was impressed by her attitude, thoughtful and intelligent questions, and performance on exams. Plus, she is very giving of her time, personable, and has a kind disposition.

 

 

I’d like to share a few lines from her essay as well. I loved how she used Excel to improve a recurring event. And yes, Excel can be used for personal use as well as business 🙂

Being able to properly use Excel is such an integral part of an accountant’s repertoire. I’ve discovered a unique way to utilize it to make my life and the lives of my friends a little brighter. I used Excel to make cute little images with inspirational phrases underneath and then I stuck them into their textbooks or backpacks when they weren’t paying attention. In time they each found the personalized message and told me how much it brightened their moods. I decided to make this a recurring event for each semester making new images every time that connected with what each of them was going through. As I further my career as an accountant I have no doubt Excel will grow in importance in my life, but it’s good to know that there will always be fun along with the hard work.

 

Camden

Camden is pursuing his Bachelors in Accounting & MBA at Grace College. While pursuing his studies, he also participates in the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program, is an accounting teacher’s assistant and tutor, and plays intercollegiate golf.

His professor said that Camden has an inquisitive mind, works hard, and is a man of the highest personal character. Although he is a busy person, he always takes time to help other people.

 

Here are a few lines from his essay, and I love his opening line! Camden, keep asking yourself that question during your career as it will serve you well my friend 🙂

I frequently ask myself, “How can this process be improved?” This question has benefited me greatly in my personal life and enabled me to permanently improve the efficiency of accounting processes.

Working as an intern under the CFO of Indiana Oxygen, one of my main duties is reconciliation. Since the previous process was manual, I wanted to create a spreadsheet that could complete the UMR reconciliation itself. I developed a formula that could interpret the incoming data and tie the amounts to the correct accounts using conditional formatting, data validation rules, and the IFS function, saving myself and the company a substantial amount of time.

I developed a complex nested function that utilized Data Validation, IFS, and a combo of the ISNUMBER and the SEARCH function to be able to identify the transaction description and if it contained specific text which allowed me to match it to the correct account. I then created a macro and attached it to a button which would reapply the formula should we ever need to update it.

By far my favorite spreadsheet was a live leaderboard for the Masters. My teammates and I have a competition every year where we draft a team and have a fantasy competition based on who’s team can shoot the lowest. In the past we had to manually enter information into the spreadsheet at the end of every round. I believed I could find a way where the spreadsheet would continuously update itself and wouldn’t require any manual entering of scores. Through a web query from ESPN I was able to import a leaderboard that would update every three minutes. Since players would continuously move up and down on the leaderboard, VLOOKUPs were critical in matching the correct scores with the correct player. Creating a spreadsheet that could update and show which one of my friends were winning after every hole was difficult, but very rewarding.

My experiences in Excel have led to a better understanding on how to use Excel and the efficiency it offers. It is unique how Excel can be just as useful in personal lives as it can be in business. There is nothing more rewarding then imagining a way to improve a process and being able to make that idea become a reality with Excel.

 

Morgan

Morgan attends the University of Missouri Kansas City where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. While pursuing her degree, she has an internship and works as an accounting coordinator.

Her professor said she is an exceptional student, an excellent communicator, and has tremendous drive and discipline. She exhibits an ability to work with and motivate others to do their best. Even though she is busy with school and work, she finds time to be involved with Beta Alpha Psi and the Missouri State society.

 

Here are a few lines from her essay, and I love that she has developed her own artistic style in Excel and that she is a fellow Excel nerd 🙂

One of my most recent projects in Excel was creating a budget for work. I created a flexible budget which interacts with the company’s production schedule so it updates automatically with any production changes. I also followed the budget with sheets that provided a budget to actual analysis that pulls automatically from the company’s income statement when imported to the spreadsheet. This was one of my favorite projects I have completed in my job because I was able to provide the company with a dynamic tool that allows it’s users to monitor their spending and ability to meet their spending goals.


One of the reasons that I love Excel is because it allows you to control how you deliver and present data and statistics. I enjoy being able to present information and data in an organized and aesthetically pleasing manner. I sent a spreadsheet to a work colleague that someone in my role had previously created and she asked if I created the spreadsheet. My answer was “No, why?” She said it didn’t look like one of my spreadsheets. I found this very interesting. Artists have a particular style where you can recognize a piece of art. I found that just like artists, Excel users have a particular and recognizable style.


If you told me a few years ago that I would call myself an “Excel nerd,” I would not have believed you. But, Excel has become such an important part of my life between my personal life, work, and school that I can’t help but get excited when I have created a new spreadsheet to become more productive in any of these facets.

 

Katherine

Katherine attends Belmont University in Nashville, and is pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting. While pursuing her degree, she is also a tax intern.

Her professor said she has demonstrated excellence in all aspects of her academic, personal, and service activities. Bright, curious, and thoughtful, she asks great questions and talks about class, work, and options for the future. She is a planner and a doer.

 

I’d like to share a few portions of her essay, and yes … VLOOKUP is awesome 🙂

One of my favorite projects that I did for my financial accounting classes was going through the accounting cycle from start to finish for a hypothetical company using Excel. This required using basic formulas to solve for values needed in journal entries and multiple linked worksheets in order to end up producing the company’s financial statements. 

I am a tax intern, so the Excel workbooks we use are mainly tax accruals, state apportionment workbooks, and client trial balances. Because some of our clients have hundreds of accounts, the easiest way to begin the process of preparing their tax return is by importing their trial balance with each account number, name, and balance into the tax return software. But first, so that the software knows where the amounts are supposed to go into the tax return, each account must be coded to a specific section and then line within that section. That could take hours to do by hand, so we utilize VLOOKUP as a tool. VLOOKUP assists us by almost instantaneously getting a client trial balance ready for import by using only a few simple steps.

In today’s business world Excel is such a crucial tool for almost anyone, so I think it is important for everyone to have at least a basic understanding of it and be able to use some complex functions. Knowing the things I do about Excel helps me to succeed both academically and professionally, and I can’t wait to learn more about this captivating tool as I utilize it in my day-to-day life as an accountant and student.

 

Once again, congratulations all!

Also …

If you know an accounting student that would like to apply for next year’s scholarship, send them over to excel-university.com/scholarship to apply.

Again … a big THANK YOU to the Excel University Alumni Association members because your enrollments support this scholarship program and these bright accounting students! And, thanks to Gary Zeune at The Pros and The Cons for all of your help.

 

 

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This article was written by Jeff Lenning

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