Wrestler Volunteers Tax Prep in VITA Program at Menlo College

Wrestler Volunteers Tax Prep in VITA Program at Menlo College

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) program assists lower income taxpayers with the preparation of their tax returns. VITA is supported by the United Way and the IRS. Menlo College has sponsored a VITA site since 2012.

For the 2015 filing season, the Menlo College site was staffed with 9 accounting majors who have taken taxation courses at Menlo as well as IRS training and exams in order to take part in the program. Student volunteers were supervised by Professor Daniel Jung. The Menlo site prepared over 100 tax returns, resulting in over $78,000 of refunds for clients from the local area.

One of those volunteers was Steele Escobedo ’17. Participating in VITA gave Escobedo the opportunity to volunteer as well as get experience in preparing taxes.

Escobedo said, “I decided to be an accounting major because I found the classes to be interesting and I considered it a route into forensics accounting,” said Escobedo. He plans on getting his CPA license after his diploma. Steele has an internship at PwC this summer, and he hopes to work there full-time when he graduates from Menlo College.

Escobedo is a wrestler from Huntington Beach, California. He was drawn to Menlo when his high school wrestling coach introduced him to Menlo’s wrestling coach Joey Martinez. Coach Martinez recalled, “I was impressed with his maturity and work ethic in practice. I felt this was a guy who could thrive in our environment. He is a great leader, a hard worker in the classroom (he became a NAIA Scholar All-American this year) and on a success on the mat (a 2x All American.) I am honored and proud he is part of the wrestling program.”

Escobedo described what he has learned as a Menlo College student-athlete as “being comfortable with being uncomfortable.” He explained, “In wrestling there are many positions in which you feel endangered, and you have to learn to be comfortable and patient in those positions. You can translate that experience to being a student: being stressed and feeling overwhelmed can often be uncomfortable, but you have to be able to adapt and take it one thing at a time.” His advice to prospective students is “get involved and understand that time management is an essential part of college.”

Janis Zaima, Professor of Accounting and Finance said, “Steele is Menlo College’s representative to the California CPA Society, promoting accounting as a profession. He works with the Accounting Club to promote Cal CPA and bring greater student awareness about the profession. He is educating others that accounting is not just ‘debits and credits,’ but a decision-making process of understanding and utilizing financial data. Steele is a perfect example of someone in the accounting profession ~ dynamic, competitive, smart, and personable. He is a pleasure to have as a student.”

His advisor Associate Professor of Accounting and Finance Donna Little added, “Mastering his sport and competing at Nationals, excelling in the rigorous accounting curriculum, representing our program at CPA Day at the Capitol this year, and participating in community service in VITA, have contributed to Steele being a terrific Menlo student.”