Q&A With a December Grad: Lexi Koon

Lexi Koon, graduating senior accounting and major from Denver, Colorado.

Lexi Koon is a senior accounting and management major with a concentration in entrepreneurship from Denver, Colorado. She is in the integrated Masters of Accountancy program and wants to pursue a career as a CPA after graduation. We asked Lexi a few questions about her time at ACU. Read her answers below!

Q: How has your education at ACU, especially in your department, prepared you for the future?
A: My education at ACU has taught me a lot about learning how to see the world from other people’s perspectives and to be a better listener. That applies primarily to my classes outside of my business classes such as my bible classes, my communications classes, and other electives I have had to take over the years. As far as my education in the accounting department, I feel as though I have been prepared by the accounting department to understand the technical skills I will need to further my career as a CPA. It feels really great to come out of four years of school and know that I actually have the skill sets to be successful in a specific field and to also know that I will use what I learned in those classrooms every day in my career. In the business management department, my professors prepared me for my future by exposing me to different aspects of business as a whole, they inspired me to set extraordinary goals and challenged me to dream big (like in entrepreneurship class with Jim Litton), and above all else, they prepared me by showing me they believed in me.
Q: What has been your favorite thing/memory about your time at ACU and COBA? 
A: Wow, that is a really hard question. I don’t know if I can necessarily pick a favorite, but it’s more-so a combination of all the times professors tried really hard to make bad jokes in class, when they invited us over for “Grilleniums” or when they invited us to worship events at their church. My most cherished memories have been when professors stopped class to give us a “real talk” about life or when they shared what was going on in their lives to give us encouragement in ours. My favorite experience at ACU by far has been getting to have my professors over and over again in class and building relationships with them to where I know they actually care about their students. From book club with Dr. Laura Phillips to bible study with Dr. Easter, they all have made a huge impact on my life as a student at ACU. The professors at ACU are funny, they are thoughtful, they are kind, and they are beyond caring.
Q: What was your favorite class in the accounting department?
A: Answering this question is difficult because the professors are all so different. All of the professors are great and they all bring a different character to the classroom. Content-wise and professor-wise, I would have to say Income Tax with Dr. Fowler has been my favorite class as an undergraduate. I dreaded having to take that class because, well, who wants to learn about taxes? I found that Dr. Fowler is one of few people in the world who can actually make learning about tax fun. He made us laugh almost every day and he challenged us, but he also believed in us. I’m also currently in his Corporate Tax class in the MAcc program and I can say that may be the hardest class I have ever taken but I still love it because he teaches it and constantly re-affirms us that we can do it.
Q: Who was your favorite professor and why?
A: I spoke a little about Dr. Fowler in that last question, but to answer this question, Dr. Fowler was my favorite professor because he went above and beyond to make us know that we are more than just a number in his class. He is typically known for teaching some of the hardest classes in the accounting department but he is also the professor that sends us emails to tell us he believes in us, that he is proud of us, and that he is here for us. Almost every day in class, he tells us a funny story to make what should be boring content enjoyable, and several times throughout the semester he has stopped class to point out seasons of celebration in our own lives and other times he took the time to be real with where he’s at and the hardships that life faces us all. He made our classes become family and I would go back and take those extremely hard classes again as long as I knew he was teaching it.
Q: If you could talk to a prospective student considering coming to ACU, why would you tell them to choose ACU?
A: I would tell them to choose ACU because it is like no other college they will go to. The “ACU Difference” is the community that you find along the way. This should be apparent in my responses from earlier questions, but the professors, the faculty, and the students have shown me what it is to look at those who are different from me and want to learn from them, to learn how to love them, and to be surrounded by a circle of people who have your back 100%. As I leave ACU, I feel completely supported and surrounded by an extraordinary amount of love and I am thankful. You will never be a number here. The first year is tough at any college, but as you continue to grow your experience here, you will walk around and be known, and that is what the walking in the Kingdom looks like.

Intern Spotlight: Trent Warren

Trent Warren at Schriever Air Force Base.

Trent Warren is a senior business management major from Colorado Springs, Colorado. This summer, Trent was an intern for Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company. Trent worked as a systems engineer in the Experimentation Lab (X-Lab) at the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). Specifically, Trent worked in control account management, space system engineering, and also participated in the Lockheed Martin summer intern project.

Trent was able to grow professionally this summer because of the variety of projects he worked on and what he learned from his coworkers. He gained experience in finance, programming, and engineering because he was not limited to one type of project. He also knows that working with the brilliant people in the X-lab was key to his growth this summer. Throughout his internship, they guided Trent and challenged him to accomplish difficult but rewarding tasks.

Trent’s favorite part of his internship was working in the X-Lab. He got to work on and solve new and exciting problems. Even though he was there for a short time, Trent feels as if the work he did helped those around him and, more importantly, fulfilled the mission and values of the MDA. Trent’s experience will help launch him into a promising career in systems engineering. He discovered a lot about what it means to be an engineer and how to overcome obstacles in the job. Trent plans to take the lessons he learned this summer with him for the rest of his life.

Reflecting on his internship, Trent has three pieces of advice for future interns:

1. Push through your blockers. Whenever you get stuck on something, or whenever a task just seems too difficult to accomplish, keep attacking it from every conceivable angle. There are plenty of people that can do most of the work on a job. What makes you stand out is if you can use your resources to finish a job that no one else can figure out.

2. Write. Down. Everything. Every business has their acronyms and lingo. If you do not understand what something means in a meeting or in a conversation, write it down and ask someone later. Knowledge is power, and the first step to knowledge is writing down what you don’t know (which is usually almost everything at first). 

3. Work hard for the right reason. In every business, there are people who are just working for the next promotion. Personally, I work for the people around me, for the mission of the organization, and for my God. Pick what you work for because that philosophy affects every decision you make.

Tales from Abroad: COBA goes to Central America

COBA professors and students were world travelers this summer, as we have covered in parts 1 and 2 of our blog series on our study abroad trips. This July, professors Laura and Mark Phillips took students to Central America where they received course credit in MGMT 419 (Global Entrepreneurship) and MGMT 340 (Fundamentals of Life Design). We asked Dr. Laura Phillips to tell us about their experience. We hope you enjoy the third installment of our four part blog series on the 2018 travels of the COBA Study Abroad program.

 

 

What made Central America a unique place to study? 

Central America is a unique place to study Global Entrepreneurship because while the culture, laws, and economic environment are different from the United States, Central America is a place with lots of start-up businesses. Also, the people are very hospitable which makes visiting start-ups easier. In addition, Central America is small geographically but the different countries are unique. Some of the challenges of starting a business in Costa Rica are different from the challenges of starting a business in Honduras. Finally, we were able to see first hand how the government can drastically alter the business environment; the recent unrest in Nicaragua is an unfortunate example of the instability inherent in emerging economies.

 

 

What businesses were you able to visit?

I’m not even sure where to start here. I guess I’ll just make a list.

San Jose, Costa Rica

  • Yuxta Energy–solar energy
  • e.e.d.–legal services for social ventures
  • VivaIdea–a think tank for increasing the impact of entrepreneurship in Latin America

Guanacaste region

  • Vida Adventura–adventure camp
  • Hotel Las Tortugas–small private hotel in Playa Grande
  • Taco Star–taco shop on the beach

Sarapiqui region

  • Chilamate Rainforest Eco Retreat

Turrialba region

  • CATIE University and the Sustainability House
  • butterfly farm
  • dairy/cheese making business
  • beneficial plants business (medicinal, herbs, etc.)
  • pueblo tourism business

Honduras

  • Mission Lazarus–here we also
    • made organic fertilizer
    • conducted a half day training session for the students and teachers at the vocational schools on basic business topics
  • hardware store
  • bootmaker
  • trash collector/recycler
  • restaurant owner
  • coffee farm/barber shop/tienda owner

For the most part we visited with the entrepreneur (or an employee for the larger organizations) to learn about what they do, what the biggest challenges are, how/if they plan to grow, etc.

 

 

Did you take the students on any sight seeing tours?  

  • Walking tour of San Jose
  • Ziplining at Vida Adventura
  • Horseback riding at Vida Adventura
  • Surfing lessons at Playa Grande or
  • Canoeing on the estuary at Playa Grande
  • Birdfinding nature walk
  • Hike to waterfall and swimming
  • Cultural scavenger hunt (milking cows, Latin dancing, making tortillas, etc.
  • Archaeological tour

The students enjoyed the sightseeing activities. They were a lot of fun.

 

 

What is it like to be able to spend so much time with students in another country? How does it differ than being in a classroom setting in Abilene?

This particular study abroad is different from going to Oxford or Leipzig because we really are all together most of the time. There were even a couple of places where we stayed in one big house. It’s very different because in Abilene you are with your students in class and then they do their own thing the rest of the time. On this study abroad we usually eat together, we travel together, we spend much of our free time together, plus we have class together. You really get to know each other and, as the students said, you become more like family.

 

 

What were your favorite moments/experiences of the trip?

Well, I love the fact that we are outside so much and that even when you are “inside” you are usually outside. In many ways life is harder but in many ways it’s simpler. The pace of life is slower and the people put more emphasis on relationships than on to-do lists. Most of our students found the Latin pace therapeutic. There were many great experiences but one of my favorites was going in the butterfly house. The house was full of flowers and the butterflies seemed like flying flowers. It was beautiful.

I also loved watching our students conduct the business training for the people at Mission Lazarus. That activity was a real challenge and stretch for our students, especially since we were having to work through a translator. They students rose to the challenge and did a fantastic job!

 

If students could only learn one thing, what do you hope they learned? 

I would want our students to learn that people are people everywhere; we are more similar than we are different. I would want them to learn that there are business opportunities everywhere but that to be successful you MUST know the culture and context of the place in which you are operating. I would want them to know that the fast-paced, individualistic, climb to the top American business style is not the only way to live. I would want them to know that being happy and being successful are not directly tied to a salary amount or prestige. (So…that’s four things, but they are kind of related.)

Intern Spotlight: Zach Fetter

Zach Fetter (’19)

Zach Fetter is a senior with majors in finance and youth ministry from Charlotte, North Carolina. This summer, Zach is an operations intern at Hill Country Bible Church in Austin. As the fiscal year starts on September 1st, leaders across the church have been building budgets for their respective ministries. Zach has met with more than fifty leaders to work through and approve their budgets in preparation for the new fiscal year. He is helping build a projection for the church’s giving numbers for the next year and will present those to the executive pastors and elders. Zach is also in charge of implementing new goal software for the staff that will lead to the improved alignment of the church’s goals from top to bottom.

Through these projects, Zach has been able to learn a lot about how the church operates and its responsibility to be faithful stewards of the money that congregants give for ministry. He has also made strong connections with those around him. Zach’s favorite part of his internship so far has been meeting with the leaders for budget reviews. “Sitting down and talking one-on-one with each leader has given me so much experience in learning how the church stewards money,” says Zach “I hope that this knowledge will help me to confidently and strategically lead a church towards fiscal responsibility one day.”

Zach has also had the opportunity to receive feedback in a job that has helped guide how he approaches his day-to-day. Every week, Zach has a one-on-one with his boss, one of the church’s executive pastors. These one-on-one meetings have grown him the most this summer, both spiritually and professionally. In those meetings, Zach is commended for what he has done well but is also guided through areas in which he can improve. Zach has taken the advice very seriously and applies it to his job and life, as he knows this feedback will help him become a better leader of a church someday.

One thing that has struck Zach in his time at Hill Country Bible Church is the wholehearted submission to God that is evident in every staff member and in the church overall. “The one thing that has been crucial to everything I have done in my internship has been a reliance on God,” says Zach. “The way that the leadership of the church relies on faith and prayer is evident.” Zach has learned that the church could not conduct their business as effectively as they do if they did not consistently give up control and wait to see what God will do through their organization. This is a principle that he believes goes beyond Hill Country Bible Church and his internship and is something that he will remember and apply when he returns to Abilene and for the rest of his life.

Ruth Allen Griggs Scholarship Luncheon Promotes Giving Back

COBA donors, scholarship recipients, Dean’s Council, and faculty and staff gathered on Thursday, March 22nd, at the annual Ruth Allen Griggs Scholarship Luncheon. The luncheon, inspired by the memory of the hospitable Ruth Allen Griggs, seeks to honor the spirit of generosity and to encourage others to give back. Each table was buzzing with discussion as students, donors, and faculty members conversed about their experiences at ACU and why giving is so important.

Ann Griggs, Ann Berger Griggs, and Jack Griggs

Students Anna Hornell, junior management major from Fort Worth, TX, and Darius Bell, senior computer science major from Frisco, TX, represented students who have received COBA scholarships, speaking to the audience about what receiving those scholarships has meant to them and the impact that it has had on their education and experiences at ACU.

Anna Hornell, junior management major from Fort Worth, TX

Anna said, “The Ruth Allen Griggs Luncheon was such an amazing opportunity for students and donors to meet! It was a time for students to express gratitude to those who allowed them enriching and even life- changing opportunities and to be inspired to generosity both now and in the future. I am hopeful that donors enjoyed connecting with students and hearing about the experiences that they have blessed them with.”

Darius Bell, senior computer science major from Frisco, TX

Darius said, “Giving back creates a thread that binds us all together. Although it is not always easy or convenient, it gives birth to community, community gives birth to a culture, and a culture gives birth to a lasting hope. Receiving this scholarship from the College of Business Administration revealed to me that ACU’s mission and vision extends past the plaques the name is written on and actually lives within the hearts and lives of the donors.”

Gary Skidmore, guest speaker, talks about the importance of giving

Gary Skidmore, Chairman of Aberdeen, member of the COBA Dean’s Council, and former ACU Board Trustee spoke to the crowd, relaying a story Dr. Condoleezza Rice tells about her grandfather. “She said that when her grandfather went to college, he paid for his first year in cotton. His sophomore year, he was asked how he would pay for school and he said, ‘I am out of cotton,’ so they said, ‘You are out of luck.’ He asked how the other boys were going to pay. They said, ‘They have what is called a scholarship and if you wanted to be a Presbyterian minister, you could have a scholarship, too.’ My grandfather said, ‘That is exactly what I had in mind.’ Dr. Rice stated that ‘My family has been Presbyterian and college educated ever since. That access to education changed everything. Not just for him, but for generations to come.” Skidmore noted that because of her family’s legacy of education, Condoleezza Rice has gone on to become both a Professor and Provost at Stanford University, National Security Advisor, and Secretary of State. He went on to say, “We’ve all likely received some sort of scholarship” citing statistics that 75% of all college students receive some sort of financial aid and that scholarships are one way we model what Jesus taught us as Christians – to help others. He stated, “We don’t know what will happen if someone is enabled to attend ACU…how their life will be changed. I know I don’t want to learn someday, if only someone had given, cancer would have been cured. In giving, both the giver and the receiver benefit.”

Dean Brad Crisp summed the event up by saying, “The Griggs Luncheon is a favorite event of mine because of the way it reflects and underscores our values. As COBA updates our guiding statements to describe our deeply held values, we are emphasizing how our Christian faith leads us to gratitude and generosity. This event allows our students to express their gratitude for the generosity of our donors.”

Dr. Brad Crisp

Spring Break in Honduras

Caleb Casas, junior management and marketing major from Houston, TX.

Over spring break, the Griggs Center and Halbert Institute partnered to send a group of students led by Dodd Roberts with Dr. Sarah Easter to Honduras. The group collaborated with Mission Lazarus to work within the communities on a service trip. Caleb Casas, a junior marketing and management major from Houston, was one of the students who went and served. Part of the trip entailed meeting with small business owners to help them with current endeavors and to develop new business ideas. Led by Dr. Sarah Easter and Erika Teilmann, a junior management major from Houston, the group of students met for several weeks before their departure to learn about the business climate of the communities they would be working amidst in Honduras. They researched the businesses, resource availability, education levels, income levels, and more. The group kept it a priority to remember that they were not the experts and that they need to trust the people that actually live and work with people in those communities, the people that understand the everyday circumstances, to determine the feasibility of an idea. The students were challenged to read Philippians 2:1-8 before going into the communities to prepare a servant heart within themselves and to learn of and how to imitate Christ’s humility.

Caleb and the other students met with locals in Namasigue and Cedeño, villages in Honduras, to help build existing businesses and develop new ideas. The people talked about how they would use their businesses to help out the community: to make it possible for everyone to have a little money to buy from one another, to send kids to school, to give to the church, to employ others, and more. In the Namasigue village, all of the businesses are tied together. If only a few people operate a business, then the rest of the village would be unable to purchase from them and would force business owners to sell to ‘coyotes,’ people from bigger cities who come to purchase products in the villages at an extremely low price. It seemed to Caleb that the people had an excellent grasp of how to operate a business in the village but desired feedback on their ideas. They taught the villagers basic accounting so that they could better run their businesses by keeping accurate records, financial statements, and balancing the cost of the business. Both the students and the villagers were able to learn a lot from each other. For example, they met with a woman who planned to sell pigs and wanted to start off with ten. The group encouraged her to start off with three and to buy three pigs every few months so that she had a cycle of product and a steady stream of income instead of trying to sell all of her pigs at the same time. The group suggested that she purchase a male and female to begin breeding so that she wouldn’t have to buy pigs to resell but the women explained that the time and money it takes to breed with the resources available to her was too great for her to ever make a profit.

The students also built latrines in the villages as a part of Mission Lazarus’ public health campaigns that aim to engage the community through health promotion and prevention and share essential health teachings with families and communities. The latrines were a tremendous step in both sanitation and privacy for families in the communities. Caleb was struck by how something as small as a latch on a bathroom door gave people basic human dignity. “In America, we don’t have to ever worry about finding a private bathroom to use no matter where we go,” said Caleb. “But the simple act of installing a two-dollar latch allowed these people to go about their business in private and gave them dignity. There was a man who had gone over eighty years without a private bathroom and I was struck by how often I take something like a toilet for granted.” Caleb was also moved by the Hondurans’ gratitude and willingness to work. “They didn’t want us to do the work for them but wanted to work alongside us,” he noted. For the families to even receive a latrine, they had to dig the hole themselves before people would come install the physical latrine. For some people, this meant digging a twelve-foot hole with nothing but a shovel and a chisel. One man chiseled through two feet of solid rock alone. Even though they had done all of this back-breaking work to lay the foundation for the latrines, when the students came to install them, the villagers worked alongside them, helping mix and lay concrete, drilling, and installing the roof. After they had finished installing one of the latrines, a man came and gave them mangoes, which was all he had to give. Caleb was amazed that the people were so grateful that they were willing to give up all that they had to say thank you to the students.

In Honduras, Caleb experienced and was impacted by was God’s purpose and design in bringing us to a specific time and place. Caleb’s grandfather was a pastor in Mexico but came to the US to start a Spanish-speaking congregation within Bammel Church in Houston. Caleb remembered hearing stories about his grandma growing up in Saltillo – no running water, an outhouse that was a mile away, playing soccer with rocks – and realized that, if it had not been for his grandfather saying “yes” to the Lord and leaving his work in Mexico,  Caleb could have been in a similar situation to the people he was serving in Honduras. “I was serving what could have been my grandpa,” Caleb realized. “Maybe in three generations, like my family, those people could be in America or helping grow Honduras. You never know what impact you or God will have on people and their life trajectory.”

Another surreal moment that Caleb experienced in Honduras was meeting Luis, the preacher of the Honduran church the group was working with. Luis was born in Honduras but moved to the US and actually attended Caleb’s Bammel. Bammel Church sponsored Luis to attend the Baxter Institute, a seminary school in Guatemala. Caleb’s grandfather also taught classes at Baxter during Luis’ time there. Once Luis graduated, he had twenty-three churches where he could have served but felt a calling to go to Namasigue. Caleb was amazed at how God brought them together and connected them at this specific time and place where they were both serving together. “There were so many points in our lives where things could have happened differently,” Caleb said. “Nonetheless, God intersected our lives and that made an impact on me.”

Caleb was absolutely impacted during his time in Honduras. The opportunity to serve and work alongside the people in Namasigue and Cedeño showed him how God works in incredible and mind-blowing ways and His plan is always good. Caleb looks forward to the potential to return to Honduras soon and is even talking about going back this summer.