The Kaplan Group Awards its 4th Annual $1,000 Scholarship

The Kaplan Group is pleased to announce that Janelle Graves has won our 4th annual $1,000 Scholarship!  Janelle is a Junior at Utah State University and is pursuing her degree in Accounting.

We started our annual scholarship in 2014 in the hopes of encouraging today’s aspiring students to consider a career in the Credit Industry.  The Credit Industry offers lucrative and interesting careers relying on excellent analytical and communication skills. Our hope is that our annual scholarship will provide student applicants with a glimpse of our industry, giving them a potential career option that they can pursue upon graduation. 

The Kaplan Group has provided free Credit Industry education and supported youth organizations for many years through The Kaplan Group website, blog and ebooks as well as Industry sponsored seminars and published articles.  Our annual scholarship is one more way that we continue to promote our industry and give back to our community.  

All undergraduate or graduate students attending an accredited 2 or 4 year college or university including graduate programs were invited to apply for the scholarship.  The eligible fields of study were:  Accounting, Business Administration, Economics, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Management, MBA or Law.  

Ms. Graves was very excited to win this year’s scholarship competition and said, “It has been a hard year financially, and winning this scholarship has meant the world to me. While applying for this scholarship, I thought there was no way that I could win it. But, I am ecstatic that I listened to the little voice inside my head that says you can! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

Janelle’s winning essay is reprinted below and was in response to the following prompt:

Topic 1 – Financial Statements & Business Models

Understanding how to view and analyze a financial statement is one of the most fundamental skills necessary to succeed in business.

In 600 words, please tell us about a past business you have worked for and which financial statement you think is the most important to their business and why.

Feel free to refer to our Introduction to Financial Statement Analysis modules if you need to learn more or brush up on your financial statement basics.

Janelle Grave’s Winning Essay:

Horses and covered wagons are a sight to see in the Teton Mountain Range, especially in the early evening sun as they trudge up the into the National Forest. Rain or shine, Bar T-5 Covered Wagon Cookout and Show goes each evening up into the Teton National Forest to give guests a taste of the life of nineteenth century mountain man. Each evening begins with check-in with the Office Ladies, where they are given a seat assignment for the wagon ride and the dinner tables. Real-life cowboys take their turns to mingle with the crowds before it’s time to begin the storytelling and the fun of the evening. True Dutch-oven cooking, warm cookies, and old Western music round out the authentic cowboy experience. Tipping the chef and your cowboy hosts is encouraged. Counting tips and reservation fees falls upon those lovely Office Ladies you met upon arrival. To these ladies, the company’s statement of cash flows is a lifeline best kept accurately.

While working for the Bar T-5, I worked as one of these Office Ladies. Each day we charged out deposits for reservations, allowing people to lock in their seats for the show and their plates for dinner. Those were recorded both electronically and digitally to insure maximum accuracy and supply back-up in case something went wrong with our reservation software. Hotels and travel agencies called us frequently with requests for voucher payments, and those were meticulously accounted for with paper trails for everything. Cash, credit cards, checks, and vouchers had to be rectified daily against a simplified statement of cash flows and then entered into QuickBooks. All these minute details had to be exact, or something wrong could snowball quickly.

At the end of the month, we would bill the hotels and travel agencies. Paper trails were again imperative for this small business. QuickBooks was updated as soon as checks and vouchers were received so that it was as up to date as possible. But while I was working there, we noticed that one of the account balances for a hotel was not adding up. We just assumed it was due to an outstanding payment of a voucher and placed little mind to it. But as the days rolled by towards the end of the season, I realized that this account was still wrong. My boss and I pulled out every paper trail we could think of, copies of reservation requests, cleared checks, vouchers, daily close-out sheets, copies of the QuickBooks accounts. Everything that we could think of. After a week of mind-blurring number searching, I found the error. Two tiny miscalculations of prices had caused a snowball of misbilled checks and hours of headache. And all because we did not double check a voucher and verify prices with their reservation when writing out the statement of cash flows for just one day.

To the Bar T-5, this daily statement of cash flows is the only paper trail they have for cash payments. Checks are deposited and stubs are matched and filed by account. Vouchers are matched with checks written by hotels and travel agencies so that accuracy is streamlined. What happened in one day caused headaches for not only the owners, but also the office staff and our manager. That daily statement of cash flows allowed us to make sure that all accounts were accurately accounted for via the reservation system, and that our big hotels and travel agencies were writing checks for the appropriate amount. For the Bar T-5 Covered Wagon Cookout and Show, their statement of cash flows was the most important financial statement.


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