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Students in Olivet College’s accounting program are taking advantage of a unique opportunity to help others and enhance their own skills this tax season. Twenty Comets are lending a hand with the free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, aimed to help residents of the Olivet and Charlotte communities with income tax preparation.

Assistant Professor of Accounting Jackie Looser is especially excited to be providing students with the chance to serve their community and prepare for their futures.

“Olivet College has a history rich in helping those in need. It is very exciting to see students being shining examples of Olivetians through their volunteer experience with the VITA program,” Professor Looser said. “The program helps students prepare for their careers by learning which area of the profession they are best suited to, in addition to just developing professional skills. Further, we are teaching students how to use these skills to give back, instilling a lifelong, worldly approach to serving others in their unique way.”

The VITA program is coordinated locally by the Capital Area United Way and all students participating are IRS-certified volunteers.. Sessions began in February and welcome community residents on a drop-in basis through April 12.

Junior Emma Schut is serving as the VITA program’s student-leader. She originally started her college journey as a business management major before an accounting class helped her find her true passion. Emma hasn’t looked back since, grateful for the opportunity she has to help people with their taxes and more.

“Working with the VITA program, I have learned so much about how to do taxes and how to work with people,” Emma explained. “We participate in basic training that covers ethics, intake and tax prep. I enjoy being able to help educate my peers and the community about the importance of filing your taxes and being able to help assist them in completing this task — especially for free!

“This experience alone has helped me grow so much as an individual. I have taught classes, consulted with clients regarding difficult information and participated in advanced training in order to aid my success. While it hasn’t always been easy, I am so thankful to have been given this opportunity to serve the Olivet community and learn more about my area of study. I have developed strong interpersonal communication skills as well as a better understanding of tax prep that I will be able to continue to grow and use throughout my career.”

Freshperson Rachel Webb mirrors Emma’s excitement. Getting involved in the program during her first year on campus will allow her to start building her resume early, something that isn’t always attainable at larger colleges.

“So far, I really enjoy helping the community through the VITA program,” Rachel said. “I am also gaining real world, hands-on experience that will help me with my future career. This program, as well as other things we have done this year, including mock interviews and attending career fairs, has helped me become a better business professional. I am gaining important skills that will allow me to stand out when searching for a career in the future. Olivet College is great at helping students become their best selves.”

Sophomore Zachary Goff has also had a wide variety of opportunities to create a successful future while at Olivet College. This professional development is paired with close relationships on campus with professors, mentors, friends and others Backed by his OC education and family support, Zachary knows he’ll be prepared to take on any balance sheet or ledger presented to him after graduation.

“Having the small class sizes and the support of professors has made Olivet feel like a family, Zachary said. “The family feel at the College and the class structure has made college a lot easier for me. I am learning skills not only for my major, but skills that are building my professional image so when I go out into the real world, I will be prepared for anything.”

To learn more about Olivet’s accounting program, contact the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu. For more information about the VITA program, contact Professor Looser at jlooser@olivetcollege.edu or 269.749.6645.

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