On April 8, 2014, students were recognized at a dual ceremony for the inductees of the Lambda Chi chapter of the Beta Alpha Psi honor society and participants of Niagara University’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
Beta Alpha Psi is the nonprofit international honorary and service organization for accounting, finance and information systems students at AACSB- or EQUIS-accredited universities. The primary objective of Beta Alpha Psi is to encourage and give recognition to scholastic and professional excellence in the business information field. Beta Alpha Psi provides opportunities for development of technical and professional skills to complement university education; participation in community service; and interaction among students, faculty and professionals. To be eligible to join the prestigious honor society, students must maintain a 3.25 GPA as well as meet all requirements, including community service.
The purposes of Beta Alpha Psi and the Lambda Chi chapter of Niagara University are to instill a desire for self-improvement, foster high moral and ethical standards, encourage and give recognition to scholastic and professional excellence, cultivate a sense of responsibility and service, promote the collegiate study of financial information, and provide its members with opportunities to associate with practicing professionals.
The ceremony started with a welcome address by Christopher Aquino, assistant professor of accounting and BAP faculty advisor. This was followed by the reading of the inductees’ names and the presentation of their membership certificates by Aquino and Sarah Doucette, president. Upon accepting the responsibilities of the membership, the candidates recited the membership pledge. Cords were then presented to the Beta Alpha Psi graduating seniors by Aquino and Brian Meindl, president-elect. Lastly, a new member of the College of Business Administration’s accounting faculty, Ian Burt, was also inducted into the prestigious honor society. (See below for the list of student inductees.)
Aquino stated, “Today we inducted 22 new members into BAP and said goodbye to nine graduating seniors. Each worked very hard to earn their way and maintain their place in this very prestigious organization. BAP membership requires a huge commitment from students in the areas of scholastic achievement, professional preparation and service to their community. I am proud to be a part of such a substantial organization and of the students and officers at NU who make it all happen.”
Sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program has been helping the community since the 1980s. Led by Burt, VITA site coordinator, NU students prepare and electronically file federal and state tax returns free of charge for elderly and low-income taxpayers in the community. The program is coordinated by members of Beta Alpha Psi, and interested accounting students.
Jason Cutler, graduating senior, said, “Being a part of the VITA program this year has taught me a lot. I started in my sophomore year as a tax preparer and this year, as a senior, I assisted as a site coordinator. I have had the privilege of having a role in all levels of preparing tax returns. Being able to see the varied levels of the tax preparation process added to my skill set and allowed me to excel at my tax internship. This experience is one that I will never forget.”
The 2014 VITA program was busy this year, holding 16 sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings with two Saturday options as well. The volunteers submitted a total of 482 returns so far with federal refunds totaling $521,084 and state refunds totaling $115,499. This year, there was an increase of almost 30 volunteers to a total of 82, offering an impressive total of 1,343.5 volunteer hours.
VITA volunteer Reese Bedient stated, “I think that the VITA program is one of the best real-world experiences that Niagara provides. When helping with VITA, students get to practice sitting down and talking with clients. These are the types of experiences that you don’t necessarily get from internships, but are vital for success.”
“Being my first year with VITA, I was pleasantly surprised with the students,” explained Burt. “The number of hours they volunteered, along with their knowledge and experience was a great asset to this program. I really enjoyed working with all the students throughout the semester.”
Click here to view the list of VITA volunteers for the 2014 season.
Beta Alpha Psi inductees:
Graduating Seniors receiving Honor Cords: