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USM Finance Students Participating in National Competition

Thu, 06/16/2022 - 11:22am | By: David Tisdale

Five University of Southern Mississippi (USM) students in its College of Business and Economic Development School of Finance are participants in the final round of the Community Bank Case Study Competition, sponsored by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS). 

The USM team is only one of five teams that have made it to the final round. The finalists advanced through two rounds of judging and an original pool of 23 participating teams representing 21 universities.

The competition’s student teams consist of three-five undergraduate students, with all case study work conducted under the guidance of a school faculty advisor; student teams had discretion to meet with and interview the members of their partner community bank as often as agreed upon by the bank. Additionally, each student team submitted a paper that examined their case study findings, and an optional five-minute video highlighting their case study paper. The paper was to be no more than 25 pages and included visualizations illustrating student findings.

This nationwide academic competition for undergraduate students features student teams who have partnered with local community banks to conduct original case studies on relevant topics. In addition to providing undergraduate students with an excellent opportunity to engage and gain valuable knowledge of the banking industry, the case study competition gives community banks an opportunity to tell their individual stories. The competition also serves as a way of building further understanding of the community bank business model, and the role community banks play in local communities and to connect academics and millennials with the community banking industry. 

USM team members include Douglas Rehm, Joseph Sumrall, Emma Warren, Mekhi Wyman, and Brock Revels; the team is partnering with The First Bank of Hattiesburg. The first, second and third place teams will be announced July 12 via the CSBS YouTube channel and the CSBS Twitter feed (@CSBSNews). Their work will be published in the annual CSBS Journal of Community Bank Case Studies. 

Chase Blankenship, Market President for The First Bank in Hattiesburg and adjunct instructor in the School of Finance, serves as advisor for the team. He broached the idea of recruiting a student team last year for the competition with Dr. Bret Becton, dean of the college.

“In 2021, a group of students were hand-picked by me and Dr. [Kimberly] Goodwin to get us a team in the competition and just get our feet wet,” Blankenship said. “We turned in a good paper, but it was mainly a learning experience for us all.

“This [academic] year, I started my fall semester FIN 350 class by telling the students about the competition and told them they would have the opportunity to write a two-page essay as to why they wanted to be on the team. I informed them the top five essays would be picked to form the team in the spring.”

Using The First Bank as the subject of its case study, the team is employing the competition’s criteria for its project that include analyzing the banking environment over the last 10 years to identify the most significant developments for community banks while attempting to predict the most significant changes that could impact the industry over the next 10 years.

Attaining a better understanding of how community banks are positioning themselves for success and sustainability in a fast-changing banking environment is an additional goal for the CSBS in its sponsorship of the competition.

"We are extremely proud that our student team has made it into the top five in just our second year of competing in the competition,” said Dr. Bret Becton, dean of the USM College of Business and Economic Development. “This is an invaluable experience for these students, and they have represented Southern Miss Business very well through their efforts. Also, we are very thankful for Instructor Chase Blankenship for guiding and coaching the team through the process. We are fortunate to have someone with Chase’s expertise and passion leading this effort."

For information about the USM College of Business and Economic Development’s School of Finance, visit