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Wenokur has already started post-Monmouth accounting job

Barry McNamara
Jacob Wenokur is pictured in the Bahamas during a 2019 trip led by faculty member Brad Sturgoen.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – Add senior Jacob Wenokur to the ever-expanding list of those who appreciate the liberal arts education that Monmouth College provides.

Wenokur came to Monmouth as a lacrosse-playing chemistry major, and he’s leaving with a degree in accounting and a position with Lauterbach & Amen LLP in Naperville, Ill., 20 minutes from his suburban home in Geneva.

And home is the place from which Wenokur has already started at Lauterbach & Amen. He began his full-time position as an audit associate on May 4, working remotely until stay-at-home orders required by the COVID-19 pandemic are relaxed in Illinois.

“I’ll be going to clients and helping with audits,” said Wenokur. “The idea is to be able to take as much of the workload as possible off of our auditors.”

Both Wenokur and the College have a previous connection to the suburban accounting firm. Nathan Gaskill, a 2004 Monmouth graduate, is a partner there, and Wenokur has interned with the firm twice, working there all of last summer and on his most recent Christmas break.

The move to accounting represented a major academic shift for Wenokur, and he feels fortunate to have discovered his new vocation.

“I was a chemistry major at first, and I really liked the basic chemistry course I took as a freshman,” said Wenokur. “But I didn’t think I wanted to go on and get a master’s or a Ph.D., so I started taking a lot of economics classes and was going to major in that. One of the requirements for econ was to take 203 (“Financial Accounting”), and I realized I like that a lot. That’s when Professor (Judy) Peterson recommended that I switch majors.”

Peterson said Wenokur stood out as a student.

“Jacob was an outstanding lab assistant, tutor and assistant with our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program,” said Peterson. “I cherished his ability to always be calm amidst any chaos around him. Because of his personality, students loved working with him. This will bode him well at an accounting firm, where there are often many tasks fighting for attention. Jacob was always able to prioritize, simplify and get things done on time and in great shape.”

Wenokur said that all of Monmouth’s accounting professors gave him an excellent grounding in the profession.

“Judy, (Professor) Connie (Mersch) and (Professor) Frank (Gersich) are all super-invested in the program, and they all bring different perspectives to it,” said Wenokur. “Judy does a lot with the intro classes, Frank handles a lot of the discussion classes, and Connie is more on the managerial and tax side. All of them add a lot to the program. They’re all quirky in their own ways, but we all love them.”

Like Wenokur, Mersch is also moving on from Monmouth, retiring at the end of this semester after nine years on the faculty.

As talented as Monmouth’s faculty is, that wasn’t the No. 1 draw for Wenokur when he made his college decision. He was excited for the opportunity to be on the ground floor of the Fighting Scots’ new lacrosse program and started 13 games his freshman year.

Wenokur also held a pair of offices with his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, and he has been a member of a pair of honor societies – Mortar Board and Sigma Beta Delta, an international honor society in business, management and administration.

Although the last couple months of Wenokur’s Monmouth experience did not go according to plan, he said, “I really have no room to complain. A lot of my friends have it pretty tough, because when they went home, their parents wanted them to find a job to help around the home. They’ve had to add that to their schedule, and it’s been tough for some of them to balance that.”

Meanwhile, Wenokur had already taken most of his accounting classes, and being back in Geneva helped him start his post-Monmouth career a few weeks early.

In addition to the education he received at Monmouth and the networking that allowed him to find a professional position, Wenokur said the friendships he formed during his four years on campus stand out to him.

“I met most of my best friends here, and they were all from different majors,” he said. “That’s something I really appreciate about a liberal arts education. If I’d just been at a business school, I would’ve only met other business students. Monmouth’s liberal arts emphasis helps people learn about each other and learn how we’re all different, and it’s small enough so that you know almost everybody.”