The Trustees of Iowa Lakes Community College learned about the benefits the Accounting Specialist program at their Tuesday, Nov. 19, meeting in Estherville. The program is providing benefits to students as well as area businesses.
Professor Lecia Berven outlined options the students have when looking at an accounting career. Students may take the two-year Associate in Science degree or specialize in accounting with a general Associate in Arts degree and, if desired, transfer to a four-year college. They may also work toward a one-year Diploma; and/or a one-year Certified Professional Bookkeeper Certificate.
The program has grown in enrollment since 1999, with a steady number of 60 or more students over the past few years. It is extremely popular because students may take the classes at any of the five campuses of the college or they may choose to take online courses.
Berven shared that this fall, 70 percent of the accounting students are from the five-county area represented by Iowa Lakes Community College. She also said that many area businesses benefit from an internship which is part of the two-year Accounting Specialist degree.
Three area students addressed the Trustees: Brandy Martin of Terril, Carissa Meyer of Spirit Lake and Noah White of Sioux Falls. Martin has a double major in Business and Accounting and attends classes in Estherville; Meyer, who attends classes from the Spirit Lake campus, has a respected history of employment, yet chose to go into accounting because graduates are highly likely to find jobs upon graduation; and, White selected Iowa Lakes because of its affordability and attends classes from the Spencer campus because it is close to where he currently lives.
Comments sent to Berven from three graduates (Beth Christensen of Estherville, Mikel Jones of Emmetsburg and Matt Kuehler of Spencer) were shared with the Trustees.
Christensen works at Holiday Express and credits Berven with a memorable and successful college career. "I look forward to what my future holds, thanks to the education I received," Christensen said.
Jones reported that he was initially reluctant to take accounting, thinking it would be "way too hard." After graduating, he transferred to Iowa State. Within one year of graduation, he passed the CPA exam. In retrospect, he's glad he majored in accounting. "If I had it all to do over again, I would choose accounting and I would start at Iowa Lakes," Jones said.
Kuehler said the curriculum was well developed and the instructors were knowledgeable and helpful. During his college experience, he had the opportunity to participate in the Okoboji Entrepreneurial Institute. He works as the payroll clerk at Spencer Hospital.
Students find work in business, governmental agencies, manufacturers, legal and accounting firms, insurance offices as well as agribusiness firms.
While most students are full-time enrollees, about a third of the students are taking classes part time.
In other business, Delaine Hiney, Executive Director of Facilities Management, reviewed a Hazardous Mitigation Plan with the Trustees which applies to all campuses of the college. A public hearing was held and the Trustees approved the plan which qualifies the college for mitigation project funding. The purpose of the plan is to reduce the vulnerability of the college to natural hazards and to guide the college toward development of safer and more sustainable communities. The plan identifies long-term areas of need which include: building a tornado safe room, purchasing back-up power generators and improving outdoor warning systems.