Leazier (center) with Steve and Nancy Sheetz
After attending three different colleges, I can easily say coming to Penn State Altoona was one the best life decisions I've ever made. I'm currently a senior at Penn State Altoona, so this will be my last semester as a Sheetz Fellow. Although I've always been interested in business and entrepreneurship, choosing Penn State was a decision based solely on basketball. Prior to my love of business, basketball was my primary interest, but I always knew the incredible reputation of Penn State Altoona's business program.
During my first semester at Penn State Altoona, the power of connections and mutual friends would lead me to Matt Wagner, the marketing director for the Sheetz Fellows Program. I had an interest for business, and I knew this program was perfect for me. I would not only find out how exceptional this program was, but I would also become exposed to so many successful people and life-changing opportunities.
The Sheetz Fellows Program has greatly impacted my life. Since being a part of this program, I've noticed an increase in my communication and leadership skill sets. I find it easier to communicate with businesspeople, peers, and colleagues. The Sheetz Fellows Program has significantly affected my personal business. After a year of serious development, I have been able to take my clothing line, Freedom Finn, to the next level. Freedom Finn is an urban streetwear brand that promotes positivity and individuality, inspiring customers to follow their dreams. This program has given me the opportunity to meet inspiring businessmen like Kevin Harrington, and most importantly my personal mentor, Steve Sheetz. Being able to learn from Mr. Sheetz is one of my biggest accomplishments. I will be forever grateful for this opportunity. I have learned business management, marketing techniques, and more personally, an enhanced drive to succeed.
My relationship with Mr. Sheetz has helped me grow as a person and has also helped me expand my business. Over the summer, I faced an obstacle that held me back from taking my company to the next level; I needed capital to create inventory. I went to the bank to pitch my idea, but unfortunately, I was turned away because I didn't show enough personal equity on paper to promise the loan. Let's be honest; what bank would give a loan to college student who doesn't have a lot money? I felt a bit discouraged. After that, I contacted Mr. Sheetz and asked for his advice on what I should do next. He responded and said that he would guarantee the loan. At first, I was completely in shock; I was at a loss for words. I never asked him to be my co-signer. His generosity and belief in me made all of that possible. To this day, it still gives me chills when I think back to that moment. Since then, my business has almost tripled in sales, and this wouldn't have been possible without the help of Mr. Sheetz.
Looking ahead, if I could give any Penn State Altoona Student a bit of advice, I would encourage them to get involved in every opportunity presented to them. I would advise young businesspeople to take the first step and apply to this life-changing program. I look at it like this: once we graduate, we all will have degrees, but at the end of the day, it's not all about the degree you have; it's about how you separate yourself from the field. Get involved; put forth all your effort; and don't be afraid. Remember that you get out what you put in. What I mean by this is that you will get the most out of whatever you do by putting in the most effort you can.
I am so grateful to be a part of the Sheetz Fellows family. I am extremely blessed to have such great mentors in my life: Mr. Sheetz and Donna Bon. These two individuals have helped shape me into the person I am today. They have been in my corner and have believed in me through thick and thin. They have pushed me and challenged me to achieve my full potential. I want them to know that I appreciate everything they have done for me throughout my time as a Sheetz Fellow.
Down the road I want to do something great for others, just like they have done for me. Also I would like to give thanks to the Penn State Altoona business faculty; I wouldn't be where I am without their support.
You can visit Dylan's business website at freedomfinn.com.