April's Intern Speech
My favorite song currently is by country artist Darius Rucker titled “This”. The song says “I don’t really know how I got here, but I’m sure glad I did, and it’s crazy to think that one little thing could’ve changed all of it.” It goes on to say “every chance I did or I didn’t take, led me here to this.”
It is almost surreal to acknowledge that I am here in Washington DC working for FCNL. Home for me is in southwest Ohio. And while growing up there, I never thought I would be working in the nation’s capital to push for change.
My journey to FCNL began when I made the choice to attend a wonderful school founded by Quakers, Wilmington College. My idea was to major in accounting and someday be a CFO of some major company. At the time I was not aware of how large corporations tend to disregard the consequences of their choices in relation to the global impact, whether it is environmental or social.
My first introduction to the concept that some large corporations played a very negative role in society was in my freshman global issues class. This seed of interest led me to take additional political science classes. It was in one of these classes that we had a guest speaker by the name of Rick Polhamus, who works with the Christian Peacemaker Team. He mentioned in his talk that the non-profit world needed more business minded accounting people. As one who does not believe in random chance, I knew this message was intended for my ears and heart.
Over the next few years at Wilmington College, I added Political Science as a second major due to the persistence of my Professor, Michael Snarr, who is here today. He also encouraged me, along with Matt Southworth to attend the Spring Lobby Weekend to learn how to politically engage as a citizen. I felt the tug of both my areas of study, the accounting teaching me that the bottom line was most important and the political science teaching me what happens to people when profits are the only priority.
It was my senior year that the political science side completely won out. I decided to rule out accounting and the business world. I was just not the same person anymore and I could not do something I did not believe in for a career. When I shared this decision with Michael Snarr, he told me to finish my accounting major, and to keep in mind that just because there is a disconnect between what is done and what should be done in the business world, does not mean that I had to accept that disconnect. I could use my skills to make change. This brought back what Rick Polhamus said, all organizations, even those that do good, work need accountants.
Around the time I was applying for the FCNL internship, I was also interviewed for an entry level accounting position for an agricultural business. I thought maybe this would be a good opportunity to gain accounting experience and to have an income that would allow me to start paying on my student loans, but then I saw the disconnect. In the interview process I mentioned a senior project I was focused on sustainable food production. The interviewer asked to see my work to see what my views were and if I was a good match for their company. My project was not exactly related to their work but close enough that my opinion would have mattered. I was fairly certain my views would not align with the company but I kept that to myself and agreed to share my project when it was complete. A few weeks later I received a call, before they had even seen my Sustainable Food Production Project, that they had decided to hire someone else.
I will be honest, when I heard the news I celebrated in my room with a jig and a yelp. That closed door was all the confirmation that I needed, to know that it was not meant for me to work for an organization that did not share my values. A week later I was offered the position as a program assistant with FCNL. What a perfect fit! I am part of an organization that agrees with my beliefs and that can use my all of my areas of study from school to focus on the Federal Budget with Ruth Flower.
It is in hindsight that I realize had I made one different choice, to attend a different college, to skip class the day Rick Polhamus came to speak my freshman year, to add a different second major, to not attend the Spring Lobby Weekend for three years, to do my senior project on a different issue, I maybe would not be standing here today. As the song says, I am thankful for every chance I did or I did not take, that led me here to this.