Skip to main content

USD Beacom Accounting and Finance Division Recognizes Outstanding Alumni and Top Performing Students

USD The USD Beacom School of Business announced the student recipients of the 2020 top performance awards.

VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota Beacom School of Business Accounting and Finance Division announced the student recipients of the 2020 top performance awards. A formal recognition dinner took place in April 2021 and included recognition of top alumni and leaders in the accounting and finance industries.

Three alumni were recognized for their career accomplishments and outstanding service to the accounting and finance division of the Beacom School of Business, including James Buss, Aaron Clayton and Wyatt Haines.

James Buss, Buss CPA, Hartford, South Dakota, is a certified public accountant with over 20 years of experience working with small and medium sized businesses. Buss graduated in 1998 from USD with an accounting degree. Buss taught Accounting Information Systems as an adjunct instructor at the USD and supports the Summer Accounting Institute.

Aaron Clayton graduated in 2006 with his master’s in professional accountancy. During his time at USD, he had the opportunity to connect and intern with Eide Bailly LLP. Clayton was promoted to partner in May 2015. Clayton leads the audit department of the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, office and serves as the partner-in-charge of the Telecommunications & Electric Utility Industry Practice for Eide Bailly.

Wyatt Haines earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from USD in 2000 and went on to attain his Master of Business Administration degree in 2003. Following graduate school, he went on to launch a career in investment banking with a predecessor to D.A. Davidson in Los Angeles. Haines currently serves as treasurer for POET at the company’s headquarters in Sioux Falls.

The top performance awards are presented to students based on their academic achievements, community involvement, membership in USD’s accounting and finance organizations and community service activities. Students who receive this award were nominated by accounting and finance faculty after submitting applications and resumes for top performance award consideration.

“We are delighted to recognize three alumni for their career accomplishments and honorable service to the accounting and finance division,” says USD Beacom School of Business Dean Venky Venkatachalam.

“This year we had a really outstanding group of students who stood out academically and through their community and extracurricular involvement,” said Erin Cornelsen, accounting faculty and chair of the Accounting & Finance Recognition Dinner Committee. “We look forward to celebrating the hard work and dedication of these students in the spring.”

The following 31 students received top performance awards for 2020.

  • Logan Bunkers
  • Zachary Motl
  • Andrew Castle
  • Alex Nelson
  • Bethany DeGroot
  • Saige Ochsendorf
  • Alex Jared
  • Tate Olsen
  • Raghav Jayaprakash
  • Cooper Olthoff
  • Laerke Jensen
  • Drue Pieper
  • Amanda Johnson
  • Kelsey Plumb
  • Logan Johnson
  • Zane Rankin
  • Trent Kingsbury
  • Ashleigh Rodriguez
  • Logan Klaudt
  • Nicholas Rokusek
  • Emily Kraemer
  • Michaela Rotert
  • Erin Kueter
  • Justin Schweer
  • Zachary Lemon
  • Madison Weber
  • Johnathon Loofe
  • Jennifer Weisenbor
  • Andrew Malaterre
  • Madilyn Wright
  • Allison Moerke


USD's Beacom School of Business was established in 1927 and has been accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) since 1949. The leading business school in the region, Beacom’s programs are consistently ranked among the top business schools in the nation by Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report and others for its high-quality learning experience, student success, affordability, and high-caliber of faculty and students. Whether a student chooses face-to-face or online courses, Beacom’s programs emphasize real-world experience through professional organizations, quality internships and capstone projects.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News