TWU students help identify fraud for senior citizens while learning new skills

In addition to learning about balancing budgets and auditing accounts, Texas Woman’s College of Business students also are taught the value of community service. As several students discovered during a partnership with Guardianship Services, that service can make all the difference in peoples’ lives.

TWU’s Accounting and Finance Society (AFS) regularly creates service opportunities for its members, which not only expands upon their classroom learning but also provides a way to help others.

“I believe in serving and learning, and accounting is a discipline that can offer great help,” said faculty adviser Pamela Baker, PhD, CPA, CGMA. “Our students develop new skills every time they participate in a community service project, and they learn that giving is a wonderful part of life.”

For the fall 2019 semester, Baker arranged for six members of the AFS to partner with Guardianship Services, which provides a variety of services for at-risk adults in Tarrant County. The students were tasked with examining whether or not fraud had been committed against one senior citizen.

After going through mandatory training with Adult Protective Services, the students were given access to their client’s financial data, which included three main bank accounts. They examined expenditure amounts by month, as well as expenditure by category, in order to determine where the money was going and how much was going in and out of the accounts. Based on their analysis and data trends, the students concluded that fraud had been committed, and the data gathered was eventually used by the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office.

“I can’t express enough what a privilege it was to partner with Guardianship Services,” said former ASF President Sara McCandless (BBA ’20), who led the project. “The whole experience opened my eyes to the vulnerability of adults and their financial affairs that exists in Tarrant County. I was able to use the knowledge I gained during my time at TWU to make an impact in the community. That is something I will always cherish.”

In addition to helping a community member, the experience also allowed students to gain insight into forensic accounting, which is generally not taught at the undergraduate level.

“Many students did not understand the value of financial knowledge and the importance of forensic accounting before participating with this project,” said Baker. “Moreover, we really helped someone who needed us.”

Other AFS service projects have included volunteering with the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, helping small businesses set up new accounting software and creating 400 health kits for hurricane victims. Last semester, the AFS held an information session on student loans for all interested TWU students, and plans are underway for one this spring semester on personal budgeting.

McCandless believes service projects such as these are vital for students’ education.

“It is important for College of Business students to get involved in things outside of what is offered in the classroom,” she said. “You never know who you will meet, where that connection will lead and what good you can do for an organization that relies on the time and skills of business majors.”

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Ray Willhoft
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rwillhoft@twu.edu

Page last updated 8:24 AM, January 11, 2021