From Books to Baskets to Gold

By Frank Radosevich II
August 29, 2012

Textbooks can do better than simply improve the minds of students. They can improve the lives of a community.

At Bradley, accounting students saw beyond the normal shelf life of a textbook and turned their vision into an adept business plan that donated more than $1,500 to a local charity and grade schools. The project, dubbed Books to Baskets, collected textbooks from Bradley students and faculty and then sold them online to buyers, giving the funds to the charity and schools.

The idea for the service project came from the students in Bradley’s chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, a national honorary organization for accounting majors. The chapter was honored with the Gold Chapter award at the Beta Alpha Psi national convention in August for its Books to Baskets idea and going beyond what is required of a student group.

Students with the organization said the award was a validation for all their hard work and proof that innovative ideas set them apart from other 200-plus universities that attended the conference.

“It’s a nice summation to our year,” said Zach Albert, a senior in accounting and the chapter’s vice president of professional events. “You don’t stick with what works every year.”

Bradley has won the Gold Chapter distinction for three of the four years it has been offered. Students also gave two presentations at the convention, one describing their Books to Baskets program and the other focusing on how to better lead a local chapter on campus.

“It’s an accomplishment to say ‘I gave a presentation at the national meeting of Beta Alpha Psi,’ and we’ve historically had students speaking there,” said Simon Petravick, professor and chair of the accounting department who also attended the conference in Baltimore, Md. “It’s good for Bradley, too, by showing our interest in the organization.”

Students kicked off convention by volunteering to help the homeless. The United Way sponsored a service project that pulled together 20 different charities or organizations to assist the homeless community in Baltimore at a single location. The students from Bradley and other universities worked as one-on-one guides with a homeless individual and walked them through a checklist of what services they required. At the end, volunteers conducted exit interviews with homeless individuals to judge how effective the day was.

Overall, the Beta Alpha Psi meeting exposed students to new ways to tackling problems in accounting as well as introduced them to professionals working in the field.

“You do learn about professionalism in accounting,” said Emily Ioerger, an accounting senior from Metamora, Ill. Ioerger, the vice president of community service for Bradley’s Beta Alpha Psi, presented at the meeting and said the practice would come in handy for her future professional career. She, along with the other six students that attended, also networked with companies and experts in the field.

Petravick added, “It gives the students a chance to learn about things that don’t always take place on campus and it’s good for Bradley that we are active in the meeting and making presentations.”