Graduate students take on special projects benefiting community veterans

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — Samantha Schaffer and Tyler Patton, students in Penn State Harrisburg’s master of professional accounting program in the School of Business Administration, recently completed projects benefiting local veterans’ organizations. As part of a special topics course, the students assisted two organizations with creating bylaws and gaining tax-exempt statuses from the state and federal governments.

According to Richard Scheib, instructor in accounting and mentor to Schaffer and Patton, the course is designed to give students an in-depth knowledge of estate and tax-related topics, concepts that a student in accounting or finance might encounter in a professional environment.

Schaffer worked for the duration of the fall 2016 semester with the Herndon Armed Forces Memorial Park, a commemorative park honoring veterans from the Herndon, Pennsylvania, community who were killed in armed conflict. The organization sought not-for-profit status for fundraising so that the park could be created and maintained.

According to Schaffer, she spent countless hours during the semester researching various tax-exempt classifications and writing bylaws.

“The most challenging part for me was creating the bylaws,” she said. “In order to do this, I had to really dive deep into the culture of the organization to determine the best and most efficient way everything should be run. I had to read every article and form in their file.”

Schaffer said her prior experience interning at Hoover Financial Services LLC and Boyer and Ritter LLC was helpful, but she also learned a substantial amount along the way from Scheib.

“When Professor Scheib told me about this project and the organization I would be helping, I instantly knew I wanted to do it,” she said. “What I found most significant about working on this project was being a part of something that is so important and will honor those who have served our country. I am forever grateful I was able to do something like this while studying at Penn State.”

Similarly, Patton assisted RallyPoint, an organization dedicated to homeless veterans in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, achieve tax-exempt status. He had no prior experience working with not-for-profits, he said, but he felt that his undergraduate education at Penn State Harrisburg prepared him to take on a project of this caliber.

He chose to continue his education with the master’s program because of how thorough his undergraduate courses were and because of how much he appreciated the campus’ learning environment.

“This was such a great experience for me, and I could not be happier that I took on this type of project,” he said. “Professor Scheib always provides his personal time for his students when they need it. Any questions that I had for this project, he helped me the whole way.”

Though the projects were completed in the spring, Patton and Schaffer said they plan to remain involved with their respective organizations.