Erie Free Taxes Counts on Behrend Student Volunteers

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  
Penn State Behrend

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When Anna Reed, a senior majoring in accounting and management information systems, goes to a job or internship interview, potential employers always ask her about one item on her resume—her experience as a volunteer tax preparer with Erie Free Taxes, a United Way of Erie County program.

The federal tax code is about four million words, so it’s little wonder that most people need help filing their income taxes.

For the last twenty-plus years, low-income tax filers in the Erie area have been able to get help for free from Penn State Behrend students enrolled in ACCTG 411: Accounting practicum VITA.

VITA, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, is an IRS-sponsored program to help those with disabilities and those who earn less than $55,000 a year with their taxes.

Reed volunteered for the program last year and found it so rewarding that she plans to do it again this year.

VITA volunteers are required to work four hours a week at a United Way tax prep location from February to April, helping those in need of services.

“There are so many residents who cannot afford to have their taxes filed professionally,” Reed said. “It was rewarding to use my knowledge and skills to help others. I really enjoyed the experience.”

It was also a valuable learning experience and resume builder.

“Working one-on-one with clients really helped me to enhance my communication skills,” Reed said. “And doing the returns helped reinforce what I had learned in my tax class.”

Student volunteers are trained on an IRS software and must pass an IRS exam to be certified to prepare taxes.

If you’re a Behrend business student interested in volunteering with Erie Free Taxes, contact Bob Patterson, lecturer in management, at x7171 or rdp4@psu.edu.

 

Students learn about the business of fun

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

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On Friday, September 21, fourteen students from MGT471W Strategic Planning and Business Policy traveled to “the roller coaster capital of the world”— Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio. However, they were not there just to buckle themselves into the park’s seventeen roller coasters. This trip was all (er, mostly) business.

Amusement parks aren’t simply fun and games; they are for-profit businesses. This is something that Chris Harben, assistant teaching professor of management, is quite familiar with because he works as an emergency medical technician at Cedar Point each summer.

Harben arranged the trip so students could get a close-up look at how the business of fun is done.

Students were welcomed to the park by Missy Smith, director of finance for Cedar Point, and then experienced four hours of presentations, tours, and conversations with Cedar Point management, including Smith, Joanne Mueller, the vice president of human resources, Karen Michelson, vice president marketing, and Jason McClure, general manager, who spent the entire afternoon with the group.

“Students were surprised at the extent of the information the leadership team members shared with them,” Harben said. “Topics included staffing challenges for the park, their international hiring program, marketing strategies, financial forecasting and budgeting, park competitive positioning and strategy, growth plans, and much more.”

Students received a behind-the-scenes tour of the park, which included the corporate headquarters of Cedar Fair, the parent company of Cedar Point, and even saw “Screamsters” getting their make-up and costumes on in preparation for Cedar Point’s “Haunt at Halloweekends” event taking place that evening. They also enjoyed a meal at one of the park’s newest restaurant offerings, Melt.

After all the lessons were done, students were able to cut loose and enjoy the park for a few hours.

The students who attended were: Grace Baumiller, Kylie Cosgrove, Emily Demmick, Michael Funera, Rayna Hollarn, Kyler Luchkiw, Margo Mccullough, Chi Hou Ng, Jeffrey Smith, Madison Start, Nathan Steis, Ryan Terrabasso, and Sean Wither.

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Standout Seniors: Meet Troy Valkusky

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Troy Valkusky:

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Major: Project and Supply Chain Management

Minor: Managing Information Systems

Hometown: Drifton, Pennsylvania

On choosing Penn State Behrend: Behrend has many unique certifications that other schools do not offer. This allows me to differentiate myself from other graduates across the country. Also, while my first priority was academics, I wanted to continue playing water polo.

On choosing his major: After four semesters of exploratory classes, I took an interest in PSCM because it offers a wide variety of potential career paths and is a rapidly growing industry.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Being able to maintain Dean’s List for five semesters in a row while being a full-time student, an athlete, and working part time.

Campus involvement: I am the president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, captain of the men’s water polo team, a Lion Ambassador, and a member of the professional business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi.

What makes him unique: I am very adaptable. I moved to Texas in the summer of 2017 for a global supply chain internship with Alcon, A Novartis Division, without knowing anyone. I knew this decision was a risk in itself, but that is what it’s all about, leaving the comfort zone and seeing new places that hold great opportunities. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

What you’d be surprised to know about him: I try to skydive at least once every summer.

His definition of the good life: Traveling the world, meeting new people, and living in the moment.

Lifelong park hopper: I am very passionate about major league baseball. From an early age, I have traveled the country with my parents to different ballparks. My goal is to see a game played in each one.

Advice for new students: Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of different organizations you can join. Take the first semester to explore and find some that interest you. Then, commit to get involved with those organizations. Try to take on leadership roles within those groups because it will benefit you in the long run.

Following his graduation in May, Troy plans to look for work as a global supply chain coordinator.

Standout Seniors: Meet Kris Knorr

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet: Kristopher Knorr.

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Major: Concurrent majors in Finance and International Business

Minor: Spanish

Hometown: Northumberland, Pennsylvania

Scholarships: Erie Insurance Group Leadership Scholarship, PNC Leadership Scholarship, and the A&M Loechner Endowed Scholarship.

On choosing Behrend: It is the only Penn State campus where I could major in International Business, which is a huge passion of mine. I also chose Behrend because of the potential for personal growth. It is a place that offers many opportunities to really find out who you are and what you like.

On choosing his career path: I wanted to become a Certified Financial Planner because I have a love for helping others and I am a very organized and analytical individual. I also love to travel and working in a different country and obtaining dual citizenship is something I have always desired.

Campus involvement: I have been in thirteen clubs and organizations and held seventeen executive board and leadership roles over my four years. Some of the positions I enjoyed most include president of Tone-Acious, an acapella group; vice president of Reality Check, a service organization; chairperson of the Lion Ambassadors’ Founder’s Day; secretary of the Financial Planning Association, and a chair on the Student Activity Fee committee. I have also been a Resident Assistant for two years.

What makes him unique: I’m a Finance major with a passion for writing, composing, and performing music of all kinds. I also love fashion and I dress well every single day.

Striking a pose: I have a real love for photography and modeling, whether I am in front of or behind the camera.

The good life defined: To me, a good life is one in which you are truly and genuinely happy. To be content and have a positive mindset is ideal in achieving that.

Pile of passions: I am passionate about many things, but especially about giving back to others through community service, mentoring, and pushing people to be the best that they can be. I also enjoy traveling, exploring, and trying new things. Finally, I have been passionate about music of all kinds since I was very young.

Who inspires him: Rihanna, Britney Spears, and Oprah Winfrey. The reason these women inspire me is because they have overcome tremendous life circumstances and have proven to have resilient and successful careers regardless of those events in their past.

Advice for new students: Be ambitious and do it all! Take advantage of opportunities as they come your way and constantly seek ways to grow your own brand and network throughout your four years at Behrend.

After his graduation in May, Kris plans to take the Certified Financial Planning exam. He would like to work as an international financial consultant in the United Kingdom, Spain, or Ireland.

 

 

Standout Seniors: Meet Alex Payne

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Alex Payne:

Alex Payne

Major: Project and Supply Chain Management

Minor: Technical Sales

Certificates: ERP with SAP

Hometown: New Castle, Pennsylvania

Scholarships: I have received the Addison Gibson Foundation Grant and the Council of Fellows Leadership Scholarship.

On choosing Penn State Behrend: My older sister, Amyelia, attended Behrend and I frequently visited her during my senior year of high school. From these visits, I realized there were a lot of opportunities at Behrend. I also really liked the nature-oriented campus and how personable the students and faculty and staff members were.

On choosing his major: I chose Project and Supply Chain Management because I enjoy working with and leading people. I also enjoy figuring out the logistical, production, and project management challenges that companies face every day.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: I, along with all of Lion Ambassadors, led a large service project that resulted in about 10,000 books being donated to my hometown school district (New Castle, Pennsylvania). I learned that an Erie-area school was going to be updating its library and the books were destined for Goodwill or the trash. At the same time, I knew that they were trying to establish mini-libraries in classrooms at New Castle High School and could use the books. So the club collected and boxed the books and I delivered them in a rental truck. You can read more about it here.

Campus involvement: I was a senator in the Student Government Association for my first two years at Behrend, have been a Lion Ambassador since my first year, and have I been a Resident Assistant since my sophomore year.

What makes him unique: I am able to talk to almost anyone about anything. I come from a large family and have never been afraid to talk to or meet new people. This has helped me greatly throughout my time at Behrend as a student, as a campus leader, and in the professional world.

Who inspires him: My dad is a self-made man who has held many different positions throughout his life. He has owned six businesses and has taught me many important life lessons. These lessons range from teaching me how to brush my teeth to understanding what honor is and everything in between. If it weren’t for him, I would not be who or where I am today.

Advice for new students: Get involved on campus and stay busy. Your time at college is limited and there are so many opportunities at your fingertips. At twenty years old, our lives are more than 25 percent over already! Make today count and pursue every opportunity that you can.

 

 

 

Standout Seniors: Meet Connor Kasten

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Connor Kasten:  

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Majors: Concurrent majors in Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies, Project and Supply Chain Management, and International Business

Hometown: Bradenton, Florida

On choosing Penn State Behrend: I chose Behrend because I love the resources available on a smaller campus. There are so many opportunities to excel in your interests here, and the faculty and staff members are always willing to go the extra mile to help you.

Campus involvement: I have been involved in many different campus activities during my four years at Behrend, but the ones that stand out the most are my times as president of Lion Ambassadors, as secretary of the Student Government Association, and as a Resident Assistant.

What you’d be surprised to know about him: I lived in New Zealand for four years when I was growing up.

What he’s passionate about: Helping others, in particular, helping my residents. We are like a family here in Niagara Hall. I want to make sure that the students I’m responsible for have everything they need to have a successful start to their college career.

Advice for new students: Having lived with first-year students for three years now, what I always tell them is that it’s okay to be yourself. If you like different music, that’s okay. If you like to stay up all night or go to bed early, that’s okay. You’ll be much happier if you are doing things that you like to do and you will meet people who like doing the same things as you, especially at Behrend where there are so many great people. You can find some truly lifelong friends here.

Lion Pride: I am so proud to say that I am from the Penn State Behrend family!

Following his graduation in May, Connor has accepted a position as an operations manager at theTarget distribution center in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

Standout Seniors: Meet Nicole Kuhn

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Nicole Kuhn:

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Major: Marketing

Minor: Biology

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

On choosing Behrend: I actually transferred to Behrend in my sophomore year from a small college in Pittsburgh. At my previous school, I was on the women’s volleyball team, which consumed most of my time. I was looking for a medium-sized school with a lot of opportunities that was not in a city and was a couple of hours from home. When I visited Behrend, I was able to check off all of those boxes.

On choosing her major: I began as a biology major, but soon realized that I couldn’t see myself working in a hospital as I’d planned. I chose marketing because it is an exciting and ever-changing field. I kept biology as a minor because I think it is important to differentiate yourself and having a STEM background will do that.

Career outlook: Short term, I think digital marketing is an area where I see a lot of growth and excitement. Long term, I hope to transition into a branding position that will enable me to combine all ofmy marketing experiences.

Campus involvement: I’ve been involved in several clubs and through them I’ve found some of my best friends and created lifelong memories. I have been a member of Behrend Benefiting THON for three years. I was the executive director my junior year, and this year I was the fundraising chair. I also had the honor of representing Behrend as one of the 700 dancers in THON 2018 to raise money for pediatric cancer and the Four Diamonds Fund.

I’ve also been involved with Lion Ambassadors for three years. This year, I was one of the membership chairs and was responsible for interviewing, inducting, and training all of the new members into the family.

The most recent club I have been involved with is Reality Check. I had the amazing opportunity to go with this club to Houston, Texas, to participate in Alternative Spring break this year. Nearly thirty of us worked to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.

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Nicole helping at an animal shelter in Beaumont, Texas, during Alternative Spring Break in March.

Learning to serve others: One thing I’ve solidified throughout my college career is my underlying love of community service and helping others. Every club I’ve been involved with is service-based. Whether it is organizing events to raise money for THON, helping pack and move thousands of books to a local high school, participating in TOPS soccer, or helping flood victims in Houston, service projects have significantly impacted my overall character.

Advice for new students: Don’t feel like you need to have everything figured out in this moment. Don’t stress over the things you can’t control, and live in today. Enjoy the late-night study sessions in the library, early morning coffees with your roommate, Saturday afternoon tailgates, and everything in between.

After her graduation in May, Nicole hopes to secure a marketing position with an established firm.