Terry Niewolny is a Vietnam veteran with over 40 years of accounting experience. Experience that he gained beginning with his service in the Air Force; then working at a big public accounting firm; dealings with bank mergers and acquisitions; and most recently as a self-employed accountant. When WICPA (Wisconsin Society of CPAs) asked for volunteers at their annual tax conference a few years ago, this town of Delafield resident decided to help. Each week, he regularly volunteers his time to help accounting students at UW-Waukesha with their homework problems and basic learning of accounting principles.
According to Terry, who earned a BBA in Comprehensive Accounting from UW-Eau Claire, “the best way to learn accounting is to do the problems and home work. Beginning accounting lays the foundation to all of the other accounting courses that the students are exposed to and offered through UW System.” He also stressed that this “class is the foundation for not just accounting, but all of business. It also plays a role in their personal finances.”
Although the 1,288 pages of the textbook, Accounting Principles by Weygandt, Kimmel and Kieso is basically a newer edition of the same book that Terry used 40+ years ago, today’s students cover the entire accounting textbook in one semester, versus two semesters when Terry took the class in college. This may help explain why students often appear to be “time-stressed” and not able to spend the time necessary to learn accounting. A positive change that “impressed” Terry was how the UW-Waukesha campus and personnel are there for the students and help students when needed. Current students have many resources to succeed. That is a definite change from when I went to college,” he said.
The reward for volunteering is the “personal feeling of success and gratification when I see a student grasp and understand a concept that they didn’t know when we first started. Like the ‘light bulb’ finally goes on. Or when a student stops by and shows me his/her exam that they did well on; it makes me feel like I made a difference,” according to Terry. Ada Duffey, who teaches accounting at UW-Waukesha said that “having Terry tutor students has been a great benefit to the students.” She notes that the class is four credits and is required for business majors. “It’s wonderful having someone (besides me) emphasizing the value of practice - as it helps the students to learn to be successful,” she said.