Olivet accounting students find strength in numbers

Finding brotherhood and quality training on campus.

This May, Olivet Nazarene University sent four talented accounting students across the graduation stage and straight into industry careers. When Joshua Dale ’19 of Geneva, Illinois; Michael Hyde ’19 of Clinton Township, Michigan; Benjamin Lavin ’19 of Crystal Lake, Illinois; and Zachary Thorp ’19 of Portland, Michigan started their freshman year at Olivet, they all chose to double-major in accounting and corporate finance. A simple, yet strategic choice at the time set the men on a course not only for academic success but also for a unique, tight-knit friendship.

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Joshua, Michael, Benjamin and Zachary met on the second floor of Chapman Hall during freshman year and realized they had very similar class schedules as accounting majors. Michael says, “It didn't take long for us all to realize that we had chosen a difficult major and would benefit from studying together.” Sophomore year they all resided in Hills Hall and after two years of spending nearly every moment together, they decided to room together for their junior and senior years. 

The men often studied and hung out in the business department office suite in between classes. Three of the McGraw School of Business professors, Dr. Mark Williams, Dr. Paul Koch and Dr. Glen Rewerts, recognized that the men resembled a group of four former students in their penchant for spending time together and their continuous success in “setting the curve” in their accounting classes. With the name, “The Posse 2.0” or simply “The Posse,” the group officially received its status as a recognizable fixture in the business department. 

Over the course of their time at Olivet, the bond between the men continued to grow as they pushed each other to succeed academically. Joshua reflects on the friendship, “Our relationship with one another is one of the many things that I have to credit for my academic success.” Zachary adds, “Freshman year, we started studying together and asking questions within our group to help ourselves better understand the material we were learning. The four of us started competing in who could get higher scores which made us better and more efficient at learning.”

Benjamin says of the importance of the friendships, “I can honestly say that without this group of guys to motivate me, I would have had a significantly more difficult time getting through school. We were always there for encouragement and to force each other to stay on track. I appreciate the help that these guys have given me through school and beyond.”

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In addition to supporting each other academically, The Posse also enjoyed time together as roommates – frequently participating in intramural sports and Olivet’s Accounting Club, overseen by Dr. Rob Knisley. Among other initiatives, the Accounting Club helps with community tax preparation through the VITA (volunteer income tax assistance) program, which partners with the IRS to prepare free tax returns for low-income families. The experience helped The Posse hone both technical accounting skills as well as interpersonal communication skills.

While they readily credit each other for wonderful comradeship through tough accounting courses, The Posse is equally ready to acknowledge the significant influence that the business department faculty and particularly Dr. Williams had on their technical capabilities and their personal development. Benjamin says, “His classes challenged us like no other and I am so grateful for it, because it motivated me to learn and accomplish a lot. Dr. Williams is also a strong man of God who modeled integrity in his profession, which is sometimes hard to come by.”

Inevitably after graduation, The Posse parted ways to pursue their careers. Fortunately, they don’t have to leave the Midwest to reconnect.

After completing internships as students with the CPA firm, Plante Moran, Joshua, Michael and Benjamin all accepted accounting jobs with the firm as a tax accountant and staff auditors, respectively. Although they work in different regions, they all completed training in the Chicago-land offices of the firm. Following graduation, Zachary was accepted into a 12-month Leadership Development Program with Graphic Packaging International in Kenton and Marion, Ohio, to prepare for a financial analyst position. During his time at Olivet, Zachary completed an internship with Van Drunen Farms. The experience gave him a desire to work in private accounting as a financial analyst.

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Dr. Williams commented on the group, “It has been an incredible experience and blessing to get to know and work with Joshua, Michael, Benjamin and Zachary and to watch them challenge one another during their time at Olivet. It was like a portrayal of Hebrews 10:24—a spurring of one another on to love and good deeds.”

While The Posse no longer exists as a feature of the business department lounge, their commitment to professional and personal excellence through collaborative learning is sure to have a lasting impact on the department.

To learn more about the McGraw School of Business and all other areas of study, contact the Office of Admissions at admissions@olivet.edu or 800-648-1463. 

Published 6/14/19
LB