Four young alumni share the highs and lows of pursuing careers dedicated to helping others.
Stories by TIM OBERMILLER & KIM HILL
As Illinois Wesleyan students, they became friends, sharing a passion for doing what
was right and intending to do their part to make the world a better place. Now alumni,
the four returned to campus recently to share how their ideals met with some harsh
realities after graduation, but in the process led them to rewarding careers and unforgettable
Emily Coles ’11, Jessica Meyer ’11, Charlie Sell ’10 and Monica Shah ’10 reunited
on a panel titled “Work That Matters,” sponsored by the Hart Career Center. In speaking
to current students, all four credited their IWU experiences — classes, professors,
internships, fellowships and studies abroad — for influencing their desire to make
an impact in the nonprofit sector.
That sector is the third largest and fastest growing sector in the U.S. With positions
as diverse as international affairs and arts and culture, nonprofits offer something
for nearly every major and interest. Though fewer than one in 10 graduating seniors
nationwide say they plan to go to work for nonprofits, 65 percent of those graduates
also said that making a positive impact was more important to them than making money.
The four alumni panelists share that desire to make a true difference in the lives of others. They have found nonprofits, though often
far from perfect, to be the best place to fuel that passion. They also want people
to know that they’re not seeking praise or halos. They aren’t looking to become martyrs
or feel what they do makes them special. Like so many other graduates, they are just trying to follow their passions and see where it takes them.
Here are their stories.