Tennis is, in principle, a team sport at IUPUI. But once members of the men’s tennis team step out on the court, they must draw upon their inner reserves, think on their feet, and make quick decisions — alone.
“Probably the hardest thing, but what I like most about tennis, is that you’re out there alone,” says Kelley senior Pat O’Neill, a native of Carmel, Ind. “Even though we play on a team in college, you’re flying solo on the court, left to plot your next move. There are those matches where you play a tough first set, and you think, ‘How am I going to figure this out?’ When you finally do, it’s very rewarding.”
A double major in accounting and finance, O’Neill has played four years for the Jaguars while taking no fewer than 14 credit hours each semester, including rigorous Kelley Honors curriculum. It has been a challenge, but it’s precisely what he had hoped to get out of a college experience.
“I wanted to go to a school where I felt like I was going to be pushed,” he says. “I didn't want to have an easy ride.”
A challenge he faced early at Kelley was learning how to be a part of a team — a departure from the mindset he had so long relied on to check-mate opponents on the other side of the net. Because of group projects and the intensive I-Core experience, O’Neill has learned how teamwork can actually help — not hinder — individual success.
“I’ve come to understand that although I may not very good at one part of the assignment, I have someone in my group who is,” he says. “And that gives me the chance to learn from a teammate.”
From moment to momentum
The moment that propelled O’Neill toward momentum in his academic career happened in David Steele’s X105 Business Intro course. The class required students to regularly tune in to current business news, enabling them to put classroom lessons into real-life context.
“Professor Steele required us to watch an episode of each show on CNBC,” says O’Neill. “It opened my mind to the whole concept of Wall Street, corporate America, and the global business world. It hit me: There’s a lot more than just accounting in Indiana. There’s this whole world of business.” A world that could only be fully understood by committing to learning as much as he could both inside and out of the classroom.
Like a tennis ball launched by a strong serve, O’Neill threw himself into a summer internship at the accounting firm of Ernst & Young, where he got a taste of accounting — and his “dream job.” When he graduates in 2015, O’Neill will join Ernst & Young’s audit department, leveraging the importance of both individual decision-making and teamwork. He credits his pivotal moment in the X105 class, combined with support from Kelley, with putting him on this path toward success.
“Kelley gave me tremendous opportunities that totally prepared me for success,” says O’Neill. “I think that’s one thing that Kelly does very well: They don’t necessarily push you in a particular direction, but instead, they give you the tools to create a portfolio that impresses employers.”
Game, set, match.