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The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

Joining the fellowship

Sheetz Fellowship opens opportunities for students attending Penn State Altoona
Joining the fellowship

Fourteen years ago, Steve and Nancy Sheetz, with assistance from former Chancellor and Dean, Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry and Professor Donna Bon, decided to create the Sheetz Fellowship Program welcoming their first class of inductees in 2012.  

When first formulating the idea in 2009, the Sheetz corporation intended to provide a qualifying and fulfilling experience for Penn State Altoona students, giving them experience instilling accountability, responsibility and professionalism to develop strong leadership skills for the future. 

Robert Sheetz founded the company in 1952 after buying five of his father’s dairy stores in Altoona. Steve Sheetz started this program in order to help students lead fulfilling lives after graduation.

“I went back to what my brother had done for me and tried to put those elements together and sat down with Donna Bond as well as our chancellor. We talked about how we might do this, and she really helped us put together a program that certainly can help students lead fulfilling lives,” S. Sheetz said.

Bond worked closely with S. Sheetz, as a professor, to help make this program become a reality. 

“For students, one of the really nice things at this point in time is they get to self-select the first two years they’re involved with in the Fellows Program. Students are Aspirants the first and second-years, and then when they get to the third year, which would be their junior year, they fill out an application and submit a resume, letters of reference and go through the interview process,” Bond said. “We also have the students do a 360 evaluation on each other, and Mr. Sheetz and I sit down and review the student’s application, read through and their 360 evaluation, as well as the questions they answered. If they maintain or have achieved the grade point average, they go through the interview process with us, and they complete expert and residence as well as servant leadership. Then, they get inducted into the program during the second semester of their junior year.” 

Many high school students find this program appealing and something to look forward to for their first year of college, one being Michael Owulade. 

I do sports myself, and after looking at the bios of current fellows, and them having the same goals as me to work with sports media was cool. Knowing this could get me closer to my dream gave me something to look forward to,” Owulade said.

Alumnus Kadyn Carey graduated in June of 2023. Carey decided to join the Fellowship Program for his first year of college. 

“With my dad working at Penn State Altoona, I kind of grew up on campus. I ended up scheduling a meeting with Professor Donna Bon, the director of the Sheetz Fellowship Program at Penn State Altoona over the summer going into my first year. She provided me with further details on how to get into the Sheetz Fellowship Program, what it consists of and what I should expect of my first year in Sheetz Fellowship,” Carey said.

In the first semester, students may join the program as an Aspirant. To become an Aspirant, a student must be enrolled full-time at Penn State Altoona and have a 3.0 cumulative GPA. After expressing interest in the program, individuals will then fill out applications and begin the interview process with Sheetz and Bon, the programs’ directors as Carey did. Accepted Aspirants are inducted into the program as Sheetz Fellows, where they will then begin their journey. At college graduation, a private ceremony is held for Sheetz Fellows and special recognition during the campus-wide graduation ceremony.

Since Carey joined the program, he has noticed all the opportunities that arose from his involvement and encourages other seniors to consider applying. 

“This will set me up for my future career due to having personal connections with local communities, businesses and business leadership.” Carey said.  “Having these experiences and opportunities to further learn about business in the Sheetz Fellowship Program will give me the upper hand when applying for different companies. Students should consider the Sheetz Fellowship Program because you truly will never get to experience a program like it. Having one-on-one conversations with Steve Sheetz and being exposed to other Sheetz fellows is such an amazing experience. I get to learn not only through professionals but also upperclassmen who genuinely care for the program and want you to succeed as an individual.”

The Sheetz Fellowship Program provides many community service opportunities since giving back to the community is a major part of being involved in the Sheetz program. The “pay it forward,” mindset helps impact the community and eventually the futures of students. Along with giving back, students will work with experts in their field through direct connections allowing students to expand their network and learn from accomplished leaders. The Mentor Program was created to support student’s professional growth and ongoing development. This one-on-one connection allows students to succeed individually with guidance from professionals. With community service acts, residences, guidance and real work in the business world, students will also be taken on business trips and will be able to attend national conventions to expose them to all sides of the business world. 

What was once looked at as only a college close to home could now be a college filled with business opportunities and hope for the future. The Sheetz Fellowships set students up for the future with opportunity, experience and knowledge to create a difference. 

“I look forward to my future with the other Sheetz Fellows, and I can’t wait to see what I can do through the program,” Carey said. 

This program is available to all majors. 



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About the Contributor
Addisen McDonald
Addisen McDonald, Reporter
My name is Addisen McDonald, and I'm a first year staff member on the Mountain Echo. Along with newspaper, I'm also a third year member of the Horseshoe yearbook staff in the position of design editor. Outside of the journalism classroom, I spend my time binge watching "Greys Anatomy," collecting fun sunglasses and practicing baton. This school year I was given the opportunity to be the AAHS feature twirler, which is leading me to achieve my dream goal of becoming a crimsonette at the University of Alabama. I'm so excited to be on staff this year and, as always, roll tide.

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    Robert WherryMay 10, 2024 at 5:53 pm

    Lori Bechtel Wherry is my Sister in law,,,