How did your life path lead to Calvin University?

I grew up an hour and a half north of New York City. From an early age, I loved sports and knew that I was going to be an athlete no matter what. When I was considering my college career, my search was based on one thing: I was a cross-country runner and wanted to run in college. Because of that passion, I looked up colleges based on D3 size, so I would have confidence that I would actually run and be competitive. I looked for schools with high cross-country rankings. I had never heard of Calvin University, but based on size, championships and ranking, Calvin had all of that. I also loved Chicago, where my dad grew up, which wasn’t all that far from Grand Rapids. I could also envision myself potentially starting my career in Chicago. It all added up very quickly, making Grand Rapids and Calvin my number one.

What was the greatest challenge you faced while you were at Calvin?

For me, so focused on athletics, choosing a major was my greatest hurdle. That probably sounds cliché, but it remains true. I explored political science and education, and eventually I found my way to business. My introduction to accounting course is what pulled things together for me.  In talking with faculty and other students, I set my heart on the idea of being a CPA.

What was most rewarding about your Calvin experience?

The overall college experience was everything you want as a young adult. With my passion for cross country, I had an immediate community of solid relationships with my teammates I loved those relationships; it is such a unique time in life. You’re independent, but also working hard, and it can take a little time to find the rhythm. For example, I did really well first semester freshman year academically amid running and acclimating. I thought wow, that was easy! But as studies slid into full gear, I realized that was not exactly the case and that I needed to study a lot. I was motivated as I got more interested in my career opportunities and felt that the discipline of running helped me find the balance I needed.

What classes, professors or campus life experiences had the greatest impact on your personal development?

As an accountant, I am allowed to say that accounting can seem boring. But Professor Marilyn Stansbury made it very interesting and taught us to understand the “why.” She was so engaging and was great at helping us know what to expect in the real world—including how to prepare for our professional exams.

Professor Pruis was another A+ mentor and educator. His financial industry background and track record turned a personal finance class into a transformative mindset. What I learned from him, in my opinion, was the most relevant knowledge possible to take with you. I would go so far as to say it should be mandatory for students to truly learn about managing your finances in the real world. He also encouraged us to take the time to find the right job for us, that it would pay off in the long run.

 In terms of a specific experience, I would say Knight Investment Management a student organization, with Professor Van Drunen also stands out. We oversaw $1 million of Calvin’s endowment, serving as the asset managers. He showed us career path possibilities and the investment decisions we made had a real impact. He made it easy, breaking things down in a complex industry and nudged us to keep reaching to be better. I felt like every faculty member I encountered truly cared about me as a person. I may have loved a big school, but I know I would have missed a major aspect of personal development that is as significant as the knowledge itself.

What advice and perspective would you give your high school self with what you know today?

As I mentioned, I was very focused on my running coming out of high school, making that a high priority in my college search. Yet I also knew that I wanted a school known for academic excellence. Luckily, Calvin ensured both. Aside from that, my biggest concern was probably the faith foundation component. I was Catholic and Calvin sounded different from that—I didn’t know what to think. So, for me, I would say yes, it was different. At the same time, it was important to have my faith brought to mind. It is beneficial to stop and think about it. I was able to connect with peers and professors and I respected that.

Today, my wife and I are living and working in Rome, Italy. I’ve always wanted to live abroad, and my employer, GE Healthcare, changed my role so that I could work in the Italy office. This is the time of life to take new opportunities and broaden horizons, see the world. Calvin is effective at building a mindset that is open and bold about going and doing without fear. I’m a person who can get ahead of myself, excited about what’s next. I now remind myself to take the moment to enjoy where you are today—it’s easy to overlook that and I’m glad to have the balance. Many of us start out with a desire to see the world. Being encouraged to develop an adventurous outlook on life while finding meaningful balance that integrates with your career imparts the confidence you need to reach any goal.