Steve, Nancy Sheetz Welcome Inaugural Candidates into Fellows Program

Helping Penn State Altoona students develop business leadership skills

Steve & Nancy Sheetz

ALTOONA, Pa. -- The first group of candidates selected for admission into the Sheetz Fellows Program at Penn State Altoona showed off their social and communication skills during a dinner on October 26 hosted by convenience store executive Steve Sheetz and his wife, Nancy, the creators of this academic initiative.

The purpose of the dinner in Penn State Altoona's downtown Aaron Building was to foster personal relationships between Steve and Nancy Sheetz and the nine students through relaxed conversation in a social setting. As Sheetz Fellows, students will benefit from advanced instruction and participation in unique projects as they concentrate on ethics, service, and leadership; excellence in communication and business acumen; and international and intercultural awareness.

"The dinner afforded a great opportunity for our students to connect with Steve and Nancy, and to share their dreams and aspirations," said Donna Bon, director of Penn State Altoona's Entrepreneurship Program and executive director of the Sheetz Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence.

"Steve and Nancy talked about the importance of giving back to the community and shared examples of their own community service. The discussion made an impact on our students, and the interaction throughout the entire evening was very meaningful," she said.

During the dinner, Steve and Nancy Sheetz presented each student with a copy of the new Steve Jobs biography written by Walter Isaacson.

"Two days before the dinner, the Steve Jobs book went on sale," Steve Sheetz said. "Nan called me and asked, 'Do you think I should get a copy for each of the students?' I told her it was a great idea. When we gave the book to the students, I told them that Steve Jobs might be the most successful entrepreneur of his generation, and since they were looking to be entrepreneurs one day, we felt it would be nice for them to see what it truly took to be one."

He added, "Nan and I always enjoy interacting with students, and these are students very driven to succeed. They had lots of great questions for both of us, and our time together passed very quickly. It was a truly enjoyable dinner for both of us, and we walked away feeling very good about our interactions with the students, and feeling good about our involvement with the Sheetz Fellows Program."

Steve and Nancy Sheetz created the Sheetz Fellows Program with a $3 million gift that also supported development of the Sheetz Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence, transformation of Penn State Altoona's Entrepreneurial Studies program, and naming of Rossman Park.

Students may self identify as "aspirants" for the Sheetz Fellows program during the first two years of study, initiating academic progress toward declaration of the Entrepreneurship concentration or Entrepreneurship minor. Formal applications are accepted during the sophomore year. Enrollment begins with the start of the junior year.

Established academic standards must be met to maintain status within the program. Other requirements include completion of a study abroad experience, credit-bearing internship, ethics course, one-year community service commitment, and self-sponsored research or creative project. Sheetz Fellows will receive a one-time stipend not to exceed $2,500 from the Sheetz Endowment Fund toward meeting their research, study abroad, and internship aspirations. Sheetz Fellows also will benefit from mentoring opportunities provided by Steve Sheetz and business leaders from the Altoona area and beyond.

Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz operates a chain of more than 400 convenience stores in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. It has approximately 14,000 employees.