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Lelkes takes on big challenges

Lelkes takes on big challenges

To more seasoned faculty, new College of Business assistant professor Anne-Marie Lelkes may appear to be juggling some pretty high expectations for herself in her new job.

But for Lelkes, a Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University who is teaching managerial accounting in the Department of Accounting and Computer Information Systems, there are two things she believes in strongly: making her students work hard and finding a way to balance her own teaching and research.

"I love teaching and I'm a research advocate. I'm one of those who like both," said Lelkes, who just joined the department in January. "I believe people should teach well. And I expect students to put in the effort and learn. The last thing I want is for students to go to work and their boss to say 'What on Earth did you learn in college?' I push them because it's part of my dedication to teaching."

With a striking level of ambition and organization, she just may accomplish what she's set out to do. Lelkes said she knew higher-level teaching was for her the minute she accepted her bachelor's degree.

"I walked across the stage and thought, "Is this it? There has to be more for me - I need something more," she said. An internship with an internal auditor that soon followed solidified her decision to go to graduate school. "It was awful feeling busy and bored at the same time - especially terrible when it's your first job! I knew I needed more intellectual stimulation."

As a graduate student, she taught more than 20 sections of managerial accounting and in 2008 won an outstanding graduate student teaching award from the OSU Spears School of Business. And although pursuing a CPA wasn't necessary for the path she was on, she decided to give the certification exam a shot.

After putting in more than 15 hours a day studying for the four sections of the exam (her nerves weren't alleviated when she came across the chat site another71.com, where testers who hadn't scored the required 75 on each portion came to commiserate), Lelkes tackled the test. Her results surprised her - she scored an average of 94.75, tying with one other person as the highest-scoring tester in the state during that quarter of 2010. In December, she was honored with the Gold Medal award for the July/August CPA testing window at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

"I am thrilled about it. It made me feel good," she said. "It helps me to know what it's like for students who will go through this."

Now settled in Pittsburg, Lelkes is focused on the tough requirements for tenure, and for finding enough time to do each area well. After presenting her thesis on simplifying activity-based costing at the Managerial Accounting Section Conference in Atlanta in January, she will present again in March at the Southwest American Accounting Association Conference in Houston.

"Getting that feedback on my papers is so important to me. The comments you get help your research, which then helps your teaching, so it's all tied together," she said. "I'm just really glad to be here at PSU."