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UNCP accounting team wins national competition

April 15, 2009

A team ofUNC Pembroke senior accounting students won the national championship in the annual Government Finance Case Challenge of the Association of Government Accountants.  


Sean DeRuntz


Brenda Eldridge


Jeremy Wyler

Sean DeRuntz, Brenda Eldridge and Jeremy Wyler qualified against 17 competitors from across the nation by submitting a winning case study in municipal accounting. They won an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., and the right to challenge the University of Nebraska at Omaha for the national championship.

UNCP’s team of advanced accounting majors was advised by accounting professor Dr. Stephen Bukowy.

“This is a great honor for our University and our students, who worked very hard,” Dr. Bukowy said. “It was great publicity for our program, and it was a great networking opportunity with employers for the students.”

“It was a learning experience, and it was good to hobnob with the leaders of government and business accounting and finance,” Wyler said.

“Two of the top four national accounting firms were there and many of the top 20 companies were represented,” Eldridge said. “The biggest benefit of the event was getting to meet these people.”

The best undergraduate accounting and finance students in the country were invited to compete in the challenge. UNCP sent an experienced and mature team.

DeRuntz, the oldest at 41, was a chef before enrolling at UNCP. His goal is to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and work in corporate accounting.

Eldridge served in the military and worked as a technician for a major wireless communications company. She also wants to become a CPA.

Wyler, the youngest at 32, graduated in December and is working for Lewis and Lewis CPAs of Lumberton, N.C.

“We watched their presentation first,” Eldridge said. “They were very polished.”

“We felt like if they chose a winner on substance that we would win,” Wyler said.

“I think our presentation was very substantive,” DeRuntz said. “We worked hard, and we worked well together as a team.”

When it came to the question and answer period, UNCP’s team really stood out.

“The audience and judges felt we addressed the issues better,” Eldridge said.

Student teams collaboratively analyzed and constructed a four-page “citizen-centric report” over a grueling 10-day period.

“We worked the entire 10 days on the project,” DeRuntz said. “Because we work and have families, a lot of emails went back and forth.”

Eldridge said they were a good team that was not afraid to offer constructive criticism if it meant improving the project.

“We all jumped on it and came at the job with the same mindset,” she said.

“We divided the project up and bounced ideas back and forth.”

One of the most difficult aspects of the competition was addressing the “citizen-centric” issue.

“This required a report that was transparent, condensed and readable,” DeRuntz said. “This is where our experience really mattered.”

“Accounting reports can be overwhelming for average citizens,” Eldridge said. “So, our report was understandable.”

Dr. Bukowy said the project challenged the students in many ways.

“The experience challenged students’ moral reasoning, raised their awareness of the importance of government accountability and may have opened their minds to a future career in government,” he said.

To learn more about accounting at UNCP, please contact the School of Business at 910.521.6214 or email