From traveling the world to working in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Megan John '13 has had a variety of learning experiences to help develop her passions.
We asked her about her time at Concordia and the journey that led her to her current position – working for an organization that helps provide low-income Americans with homes.
Were there any activities or experiences at Concordia that transformed you or influenced your plans after Concordia?
My most transformative Concordia experiences were actually those that took place in other countries. I grew up in rural Minnesota, a mile outside of a small town of 600 people. I had never imagined that my first international trip would be to the beautiful hills of Rwanda, Africa, where I would teach English to children and adults for five life-changing weeks. Through Concordia’s impressive study away programs, I studied abroad twice more – to Ireland and India – for a total of more than a year abroad. Each country I lived in was vastly different from the last and each taught me important lessons about life and about myself as a young global citizen.
Why did you major in psychology at Concordia?
Like many students, my career goals changed over the course of my four-year degree. I chose to major in psychology because I had initially planned to become a psychiatrist. Two years later, I had nixed the idea of medical school and opted for the narrower clinical psychology route. Three times was the charm for me, as my passion for poverty alleviation and macro-level change grew and I decided to follow a career in public policy. Nevertheless, my education in psychology laid the foundation of my dedication to scientific inquiry, attention to detail, dynamic writing ability and understanding of the human mind, and provided a unique perspective in my current career.
What has your path been since you left Concordia? Where have you studied/worked?
After graduating from Concordia College, I moved to Denver with a fellow Cobber where I worked in refugee resettlement, fell in love with the practice of yoga, and took time to breathe deeply before enrolling in graduate school the next year. In 2014, I began my work toward a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College in Pittsburgh. The next summer, I moved to Washington, D.C., as a Friedman scholar, where I took a social policy internship with Third Way, a politically moderate think tank.
My second academic year, also in D.C., was a busy one. During the day, I worked as a data and evaluation lead within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. After graduating with honors from my master’s program, I took a job with Enterprise Community Partners, a nationwide nonprofit that annually invests $5 billion into low-income housing.
I currently work on the Knowledge, Impact and Strategy team where I focus on program evaluation, success measures, and ensuring that the organization is doing its best to provide low-income Americans not only with homes but also the connections to education, transit, healthcare, and jobs that are imperative to be financially successful in America.
What classes/experiences/relationships have helped you the most in your post-Concordia experiences?
My mentors were imperative for my success. Through partnering with professors, I gained irreplaceable experience by presenting research at conferences in Minnesota and Washington, D.C. (Dr. Mona Ibrahim); discovering my talent for creative writing and storytelling (Dr. William Snyder); planning and leading a spring break experience to Portland, Ore. (Dr. Ken Foster); engaging in several internships (Dr. Susan Cordes-Green); and developing the project which I am most proud of – a report of best practices for effective sexual assault prevention programming in higher education (Dr. Susan Larson). Without the encouragement of my mentors at Concordia, I would not have taken on these projects that gave me so much confidence in my abilities and provided the experiences that shaped the person I am today.
What has been your most valuable takeaway from Concordia?
You define your experience and if you want your experience to be extraordinary, you must take risks, seek out meaningful opportunities, and fully engage with the world around you.
Ali Froslie '18 is an English major at Concordia.