IRS brings 'Adrian Project' to campus
Agents lead student groups through series of criminal scenarios
October 23, 2006 —
The IRS Criminal Investigation Division teamed up with SVSU students to help solve hypothetical financial crimes Friday afternoon in the Alumni Lounge.
The project, known as the "Adrian Project," allowed a total of 34 students to work with around 20 IRS Special Agents or retirees in many investigations such as drug traffickers and multi-filer tax schemes.
Most of the students participating during the afternoon were accounting majors, although criminal justice majors were also invited to participate in the project as well.
During the afternoon, students were split up into groups to perform investigations, with each one taking around four hours to complete.
"You're not students today, you're honorary special agents," said Special Agent Dwain Pridemore to the audience in attendance.
Pridemore has been a special agent for 24 years now and introduced the program and events to the students. He explained that the particular kind of project they were involved in is important because it is very hands-on and is able to put students into real life situations they may one day encounter.
The program started in 2000 at Adrian College as an idea pitched by Michigan Public Information Officer Steve Moore. Twenty students attended the first seminar, and the program has grown tremendously from there.
"We hit the jackpot," Moore said.
Moore also mentioned that the seminar could possibly change the minds of some of the criminal justice majors to become accounting majors.
"I think our job is to expose them to new accounting careers," he said. "We're here to change that image."
Moore said this seminar was the 17th offering just in Michigan, and the IRS Criminal Investigators are doing five schools per year and have accumulated a two-year waiting list.
Each year they try to pick one new school as well, and this time it happened to be SVSU.
Moore explained how important he thought it was to visit many different parts of the state, and discussed how the project is making its way around the country.
The Adrian Project has been introduced to 10 different states now. Last week alone, the project visited Michigan, Ohio, and New York.
"Having Adrian done in downtown New York was absolutely incredible," Moore said.
Supervisor Kathy Birchfield has been a special agent for 23 years and works on and off with the Adrian Project. She stressed the importance of keeping in constant contact with her agents and truly reaching out to students.
"Not everyone knows there's a criminal division of the IRS," Birchfield said.
She mentioned different colleges here in Michigan the project has attended and GVSU, Wayne State, Eastern, Western, and Central have all hosted Adrian Project.
Freshman Julie Jurek, a criminal justice major, attended the event. She said she was very fond of the project and considered it to be a unique experience.
"It's the first time I've done anything like it," Jurek said.
She also mentioned the Adrian Project may have convinced her to pursue a career with the IRS, which is exactly what Moore wanted to happen.
For those who were serious about applying for a job, Revenue Agent and Recruiter Chris Lezovich was there to talk about careers and told students when to apply. Although Moore mentions it was very difficult to obtain a job with the IRS, Lezovich was still there to encourage students and help out in any way he could.
Many agents were excited about being there and their enthusiasm rubbed off on the students. Moore said he enjoyed seeing students working so hard for his job and loves to talk to students after the seminar.
"By the end of the day," he said "students will have a different picture of the IRS.”