Austin Ratliff ’23 | Havre, Montana
Major: Accounting with a concentration in Public Accountancy
Please tell us about yourself.
I am a graduating senior from Concordia College and I also participated on the wrestling team for all of my time here. I come from a small town in Montana where I was the student body president, a wrestler, and a football player. When I have free time, I am usually cooking, playing with my pup, or playing the latest video games.
How did you hear about Concordia and why did you choose to attend college here?
I was actually on a visit to NDSU when my stepmother (who also attended Concordia) asked if I would want to visit her alma mater. I decided to since it was just over the river and immediately felt like this was my best choice.
I then received a phone call later in the year after having success at high school wrestling and the coach at the time offered me to join the team here at Concordia. This was the final step to help me decide where I wanted to go and learn.
What was the biggest adjustment for you and how did you overcome that?
Being away from family was very tough. It is about a day’s trip to make it back. This can get especially difficult during the winter. Thankfully, I am able to take the Amtrak train back home if needed. I overcame my homesickness with the group of friends I made at Concordia. It was unlike any experience I had with other friend groups in the past and this made living in the dorms extra special.
What do you like about the Fargo-Moorhead area?
I love the variety of options for food and entertainment. Unlike my hometown, there is a plethora of things to do and eat around the area. It also does not feel like a big town or city and is all connected nicely via the interstate.
How did you decide on your major?
I like numbers and organizing the numbers in a way that makes sense. As an accountant, all these different numbers and accounts tell the story of a business and being able to apply that to the real world feels like such a valuable asset (pun intended).
Have you had a favorite accounting course? Why was it your favorite?
My favorites were Audit I and II. Not only had I just been an audit intern before taking the course, but the professor (now retired) made the class fun and interactive. Auditing as a class and profession requires a lot of client-facing work and teams working through problems to get an understanding of a certain situation. These interactions with people are my favorite part of accounting and also why I chose this specific route as a career.
What are the benefits of taking classes in the Offutt School of Business?
The Offutt building is very easy to navigate, so getting around is not an issue after you gain a basic understanding of the building. The many rooms also offer a great place to study as well as the outside patio. Then if you have any questions for professors, their offices are just on the other side of the patio door.
What campus activities have you been involved in?
Wrestling, on-campus bingo nights, movie nights, and game nights
What is the student-athlete experience like at Concordia?
As a wrestler, we were really busy since the sport takes up a majority of both semesters. Fortunately, the school and coaches did a great job pairing us all together on the same floor in the dorms, so we were able to bond and be on the same schedule when it came to lifts and practices. Although it was busy, our coach always strove for us to be good not just in our sport but also academically and lifestyle-wise, which I think made us stand out from other schools’ teams.
How do you balance your busy schedule as a student-athlete?
An Outlook calendar and sometimes planners. Our coach does a great job laying out our schedules and itineraries and recommended Outlook as a tool for school as well. I saw major improvement after taking this advice. It’s also a key component in my work life.
What do you like best about being a Cobber?
I like the feeling of home and belongingness. I always feel like I can talk with people or ask questions and not feel out of the ordinary for doing so. Concordia does a good job at this sense of inclusiveness.
Please tell us about your PEAK (Pivotal Experience in Applied Knowledge) opportunities and what you learned.
My PEAK was doing Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) where we met in the evening on campus and had everyday people from the community come in around tax season and we helped prepare them. Doing this PEAK made me feel like I was applying my talents for the better as a lot of these people were elderly or not as well off, so I felt like I gave back to my community by doing this. Shout out to accounting professor Ronald Twedt.
In what ways has Concordia helped you grow?
Concordia has allowed me to think outside the box and view issues from other people’s perspectives. This has allowed me to open up my mind and become more conscious of these thoughts and ideas.
What’s your favorite Concordia tradition and why?
My favorite Concordia tradition is definitely running into Prexy’s Pond and also smoothie Mondays in the dining center. We would always go as a team and get them after lifting super early.
What’s one thing you never imagined you would do before coming to Concordia?
I never thought I would compete as a college wrestler.
Do it. Take the leap. I am very glad I did.”
What advice would you give to a Montana student who is considering Concordia?
Do it. Take the leap. I am very glad I did, and I would not choose another path. The people I have been able to meet and places I have gone far outweigh all my other options of what I might have done instead.
You just graduated in December. What’s next for you?
I have accepted an offer as a full-time audit associate at Eide Bailly in Fargo. I also plan on obtaining my CPA license and am currently studying for that beast.
Published January 2024