Posts filed under 'Community Service'



VITA 2013: Another Year of Success!

It’s hard to believe, but another year of VITA – Volunteer Income Tax Assistance – is complete!  After over 1,000 volunteer hours put in by Fisher students at both the Godman Guild and OSU Law Extension Center, 275 income tax returns were filed for residents around Columbus, Ohio.  These returns generated around $425,000 in refunds for these individuals and families, which is an average of about $1,500 per return.  VITA was a fantastic learning experience from both a tax technical skills standpoint, as well as a client relationship-building standpoint.

MAcc student Ly Pham answers a taxpayer’s questions at Godman Guild.

For many student volunteers, VITA is particularly challenging in unexpected ways.  Sure, each student completes training and learns how to navigate the tax software and recognize common tax credits and deductions for our clients.  However, it can often be difficult to explain tax concepts to our clients.  Establishing trust with a client can be difficult in any situation, but it is particularly challenging for some of our clients to put their trust in a 22 or 23-year-old student.  I was happy to see all of our student volunteers express patience and kindness with all taxpayers, making sure their questions were answered and asking site managers for help whenever needed.

MAcc and undergraduate students volunteered over a period of six weeks to assist Columbus residents in preparing their income tax returns.

For those of you who are prospective students or will be starting the MAcc program in August, I highly recommend participating in VITA.  You don’t have to be going into tax after graduation; we had plenty of future auditors and corporate accountants help us out this year.  VITA is simply a great way to get to know your classmates better and spend some time serving the greater Columbus community.


MAcc Gives Back 2013!

Fisher MAcc students, faculty and staff came together on Friday, April 5, to serve the greater Columbus community.  Groups visited the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store, Lutheran Social Services Westside Pantry, Franklin Park Conservatory, and Whetstone Park to participate in various service activities.  My group helped clean, organize and stock shelves at the westside pantry for the morning.  It’s always very humbling to see the need of Columbus residents so close to campus, but it’s also encouraging to see how many organizations are operating with the well-being of community in mind.

MAcc students and staff volunteer at the LSS Westside Pantry

The famous OSU football coach Woody Hayes once said, “You can never pay back, but you can always pay forward.”  I hope that all of us are able to continue paying it forward by serving whatever communities we’ll be a part of after graduation.  I’m lucky to be joining an accounting firm that places community service among its top priorities, and I’m thankful to be part of a college that does the same!


Entrepreneurship at Fisher

 

One of the greatest benefits of attending Fisher College of Business is the chance to join a culture rooted in the entrepreneurial spirit. As an entrepreneur and start-up junkie this was a critical factor in my decision to continue my education at Ohio State. Columbus and OSU offer unprecedented resources and opportunities for budding “starters” such as the business builders club, start-up weekend, TechColumbus, and the Deloitte Entrepreneurship Competition. Moreover, Fisher’s Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization course was named one of the 10 best entrepreneurship courses in the nation by Inc. magazine. The course builds business around emerging technologies developed at The Ohio State University and other research institutions that have not found commercial uses.” And so, for this blog post, I thought I would share one of my current start-up projects and how Fisher College of Business and Ohio State have helped me along the way.

Columbus Start-Up Weekend

It all started during my internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers this past summer in Columbus. Believe it or not, I met the lead recruiter for our region on my first day at Ohio State – a bond that ultimately led to my internship and eventual job offer in Chicago. Anyways, one of my co-interns from Indiana University participated in Project Belize, a week long experience offered by PwC to teach underprivileged children in Belize basic financial literacy skills. When he told me about the program I was impassioned and began to seek out state-side opportunities that were similar. What I found was a financial literacy education landscape dominated by conflicting programming and mediocre performance. In fact, one study by the Jump$tart Coalition suggested that current efforts had made essentially no impact in student financial literacy over the past 10 years. That was when I realized I had to do something – to use my creative nature and knowledge from business school to make an impact. The result was the founding of Centsay, a start-up non-profit focused on providing universal access to financial literacy education.

Project Belize (PwC) – Our Initial Inspiration

Our journey – from that first brainstorming session to implementing our business model – has been an amazing adventure (and we’re still right in the thick of it), but I can with certainty say that we couldn’t have possibly accomplished everything that we have in the past 5 months without the support network and resources available via Ohio State and Columbus. To highlight a few:

  1. Being enrolled in a business school with integrating programming has allowed me to meet MAcc, MBA, MHR, SMF, and undergraduate students. These different student bodies offer unique perspectives and strengths and weaknesses. Being able to connect with all of them facilitated the construction of our core team and ability to quickly locate short-term specialists to help us overcome short-term obstacles.
  2. Professors in Fisher have been an invaluable resource for vetting ideas, strategies, and plans. They have been able to provide our team with advice about areas where we lack expertise and guidance when we encounter issues that we have no experience with.
  3. University leadership and staff have had an open door policy with regards to making our venture a success. Whether we are looking for space to work on projects or introductions to potential partners or donors Ohio State has always gone above and beyond what any of our team members expected.

Ohio State has the unique attribute of giving its students not only the skills, but also the confidence to succeed. While our venture is still in-process, we know we can count on our school for continued support!


More than Academics

Through my semester and a half at Fisher, I am come to realize that this college offers so much more than academics! Our MBAs have a natural tendency to get involved in extracurricular activities- and I am happy to be a part of many student groups and orgs because of this. One area in particular that has surprised -and excited- me has definitely been our involvement athletics and intramurals.

I am a sports nut! While soccer was my first love, I find it hard to say no to anything related to sports – not only is it fun and healthy, but I feel it is one of the best ways to help balance out academics.

During the fall, nothing brings a new group of students together like OSU football. A few of my classmates took the lead on creating a seating section for games, and because of this, our first-year class was able to watch each football game as a group. It was a great way to become acclimated to the school and program, as well as meet some great friends.

Within time, an MBA Ambassador intramural flag football team was created. I proudly joined this team with co-ambassadors, and we had a blast. Most recently, I took part in our dodgeball tournament to support Honor Flight of Columbus. Sponsored by FisherServes, students in all of our MBA programs at Fisher formed teams of 6 to compete in a half-day tournament. I can proudly say that a donation goal of $500 was set, and we have hit 95% completion! Here is a picture of our killer team:


This week, a group of first-year MBA students is kicking off a co-ed indoor soccer season, and I am excited to be part of it. Hopefully I will have some good updates to come once our season gets started! 

If you are looking at Fisher as a potential school for your MBA- and you share our love for involvement- you are at the right place. With over 25 student organizations, there is no doubt that one will spark your interest.


2013 Buckeyethon Raises Over $600K For Nationwide Children’s Hospital

This past weekend myself and thirteen other Fisher MHRM students dedicated twelve hours of our lives to the children of Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s hematology and oncology departments during Ohio State’s annual Buckeyethon. The dance marathon took place from 8pm last Friday to 11pm Saturday with dancers choosing one of two twelve hour shifts. I chose to dance the overnight 8pm-8am shift.

As an undergraduate I participated in UCLA’s Dance Marathon so when the opportunity to participate in Ohio State’s version presented itself, I jumped at the chance. As a Buckeyethon dancer we individually pledged to raise a minimum of $100 “for the kids” at Children’s Hospital. As a whole, our MHRM group raised $4,555.13! On the day of we rounded up as much purple gear as we could and went to the Ohio Union to join our fellow purple team dancers along with all of the other students participating in this year’s event. Hundreds of students packed the union for opening ceremonies as we welcomed some of the children from Nationwide along with their families. Speakers reminded us why we were dancing, and we recognized those that were dancing specifically for friends or family members. It was then off to the ballroom to get our twelve hours of dancing started. During our twelve hours we danced, played games, met some amazing kids, made cards, colored pictures, ate, talked, and laughed.

Spending Time With The Kids

If you have never participated in a dance marathon, it is truly an amazing experience. When you are tired, your feet hurt, your back is sore, and you just want to sit down- those are the times when you remember the kids you are dancing for and the pain that they have to go through on a sometimes daily basis as they battle all different types of cancer. Those thoughts give you strength to jump up and down, keep your blood pumping through your body, and fight through the little bit of pain. Our pain is temporary, and the same may not be able to be said for some of the kids at Nationwide (and across the country fighting similar illness).

In the end, Buckeyethon 2013 raised $608,623.29! The event was absolutely incredible, and it is my hope that next year we can get even more Fisher graduate students involved.

Buckeyethon 2013 raised $608,623.29! Photo via Buckeyethon Facebook Page.


With winter comes tax season!

The winter months at the Fisher College of Business bring the 2012 tax filing season and volunteer opportunities with VITA! The VITA program (volunteer income tax associate) is a chapter of the IRS’ community service initiatives that provides free tax preparation services to low income neighborhoods in the Columbus area. Fisher accounting undergraduate students and MAcc students have the opportunity to volunteer their services to assist the program from late January to early March. Fisher provides two site locations to individuals seeking free tax services. It is a great way to give back to the community, while also learning more about the tax system. The program was founded in 2003 by the MAcc program’s very own, Professor Raabe, and has provided over $4 million in tax refunds and services valued $1.2 million since the formation.

In order to participate in the VITA program, students must go through basic and intermediate training through the IRS. Training consists of realistic tax scenarios and applying the IRS tax code. Then, tax software training is required using “tax wise” systems. Simulations were created for software training to allow students to file a “fake” return using typical tax information a client may provide. The training provides an excellent opportunity to understand the structure of the tax code, learn the basics of individual tax returns, and ultimately take this knowledge with us to our career.

This past Friday marked the opening session of VITA and I had the opportunity of participating. For some, if not most, of our clients, this will provide the biggest pay day of the year. It was amazing to instill such extreme happiness in the VITA clients upon hearing the news of their tax refunds and I cannot wait to continue this throughout the rest of my time with VITA this season. Check out this video to learn more about VITA.


As Tax Season Begins, MAcc Students Serve

It’s finally here!  VITA – Volunteer Income Tax Assistance – has begun!

Each winter for six weeks, Fisher MAcc and select undergraduate students volunteer at Godman Guild and the OSU Law Extension Center in Columbus to provide tax preparation assistance to low-income individuals and families.  After weeks of organizing training and compiling schedules (with much help from other volunteers), we kicked off our first volunteer session on Friday at Godman Guild.

A great group of volunteers for our first week of VITA!

We had several individuals come in and were able to prepare their federal tax returns to be submitted at the end of the month.  These Columbus residents are able to obtain refunds through several different credits including the child tax credit and earned income credit.  What is more important than learning how to complete the tax returns is the time we spend hearing the stories of these people who are really our neighbors.  For many of the people we help, their tax refund will be the largest sum of money received in the year and will help them make it through the winter.  We had a few familiar faces as well – people have been coming to Godman Guild for our assistance since the program began ten years ago.

I’m excited to see how the rest of the tax season goes as we continue to complete returns at Godman Guild and the Law Extension Center.  I’ll be sure to give an update at the end of the season to share how many individuals we were able to help in these six weeks of service!


Winter Break Festivities

Hi readers!

I can’t believe the second session of Fall semester is already over! It is hard to believe I am already halfway finished with the MAcc program either … with classes ending, that of course means finals are among us. This time around, I was done with finals week on Tuesday and am now free for winter break activities! On Friday, I plan on heading to Deep Creek Lake, which is halfway between Columbus and my hometown of Mt. Airy, MD. I have been going to cabins at Deep Creek for years during the summer months for fun weekends of boating, tubing, and relaxing with friends and family. During the winter, the nearby Ski resort, WISP, is open for skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, you name it. This coming weekend is the opening day for WISP’s winter season and I am hoping to get out there for skiing and ice skating! There are also tons of hiking trails along the lake and mountains of western Maryland to add to the winter activities list. After a long day of outdoor adventures, it will be great to come back to the cabin and relax in the hot tub! (Check out the pics below for some nice scenic views of Deep Creek.)

After a few days in Deep Creek, I will head back to my parents’ house for about 10 days to visit with family and friends for the holidays. I know one thing for certain…I will be getting my fair share of delicious seafood while I am back on the East Coast. (Sometimes good seafood is hard to come by in the Buckeye State :-)) Then before I know it, it will be back to Columbus to get ready for new years celebrations and the start of spring semester. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which I mentioned a few weeks ago, will also be getting started in January with several training sessions to prepare the MAcc students for this important service project. It is going to be one busy winter! Happy Holidays everyone!

A view of the lake from the ski slope at WISP

 

Ski Slopes at WISP

 

A shot of the cabin I will be staying


Photos from Fisher Follies Auction

Fisher Follies Auction had wonderful donations from our student, faculty & staff! (Click here for more information on Fisher Follies.) Here are some quick facts and photos from the auction:

Number of donations at this year’s auction: 134

Amount of money raised at this year’s auction: $19,708

Julian and Alycia

Two beautiful ladies getting ready for the big event. Thank you, Julian & Alycia!

Most popular items were…. are you ready?

1. A Winter BBQ at “The Sanctuary” for 20 Donated by Professors Larry Inks and Tony Rucci Raised $2,520
2. C-Suite Mentoring Trip to Chicago for 3 Donated by Professor Shashi Matta Raised $2,200

3. Two sets of 2 Fisher Suite football tickets in the Horseshoe (for one conference game and one non-conference game) plus invitations to the official Fisher Tailgate at the Blackwell Hotel. Donated by Dean Christine Poon Raised $1,500

I donated a vintage Japanese wedding kimono.

Follies auction

Wedding kimono

All of us were having so much fun, I don’t think anyone wanted to leave when it was over.

Gift basket

Child’s gift basket

 

Wine basket

Wine basket & Tickets to see Conan

Live auction

Live auction


Need a Study Break? Volunteer!

Feel like you’re swimming in notes, practice problems, and formula sheets?  That’s certainly how I feel when the end of the term rolls around and I start to look over everything we’ve learned over the past seven weeks in the MAcc program.

In all honesty, we’re given plenty of time to study for our finals.  Enough time, in fact, that twenty of us MAccers took a break on Thursday to volunteer at the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.  We wrapped up a holiday season canned food drive by packing a total of 647 boxes of food for the CSFP program.  The food bank’s Commodity-Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) provides a monthly box of nutritious food to low-income seniors.

A great place to do some community service!

After community service, I wrapped up the week with all of my friends at the MAcc Autumn reception.  We enjoyed dinner with Fisher faculty and staff, which was followed by a keynote speech by MAcc alumnus Jeff Howard and the recognition of two autumn graduates of our program.  It was an especially nice way to end the semester and see classmates and faculty before leaving town over break.

My apologies for the short post, but it’s back to studying for me.  After finals, I’ll be traveling to London, Paris, and Nuremberg, Germany, so no worries – there are many exciting posts to come!!


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