The key to furthering your career and rising to the top of an organization, according to these alumni, is to identify and pursue your passion.

As told to Camille LeFevre
January 2014

Dr. Jim Smucker ’01

Dr. Jim Smucker. Illustration credit: Andy Ward
Dr. Jim Smucker. Illustration credit: Andy Ward.

PROGRAM: Ph.D. in Applied Management and Decision Sciences (now Ph.D. in Management)

FIRST JOB: Mowing lawns at his father’s business

CURRENT JOB: Dean of graduate studies at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., and president of the Bird-in-Hand Corp., a family-run inn, restaurant, and bakery in Lancaster County, Pa.

“I’m a big believer in pursuing what we are passionate about and not what might be the most lucrative career. I have also been very active in the local business community, including serving as chair of the board of our Chamber of Commerce, and was struck by how many people were in highly successful careers but lacked passion for their work. They did not seem happy in what they were doing. I constantly remind my three college-age children to pursue their passion, a vocation, not just a job that pays well. If we find our true passions, I believe the rest will take care of itself.”

Dr. Wanda Corner ’13

Dr. Wanda Corner. Illustration credit: Andy Ward
Dr. Wanda Corner. Illustration credit: Andy Ward.

PROGRAM: Ph.D. in Management

FIRST JOB: Cashier at a department store restaurant

CURRENT JOB: CEO of Corner of Success Inc., a small management consulting company that offers executive coaching, strategic planning, and business consulting

“If money were no object, would you work in your current position for free? This simple question will help you identify your passion. Once you’ve identified it, build your career around it. I found my passion in college when I volunteered for a main street business association. Through my work as an advocate, I promoted economic change and slowly watched a two-mile economic corridor flourish. I loved this work, and many years later I launched a business to center my work on this passion. I never lost sight of my goal to be a community leader. Develop a similar focus. It will provide centeredness to your performance and keep you on a path to success.”

Dr. Joshua Thomas-Acker ’10

Dr. Joshua Thomas-Acker. Illustration credit: Andy Ward
Dr. Joshua Thomas-Acker. Illustration credit: Andy Ward.

PROGRAM: Ph.D. in Psychology

FIRST JOB: Associate at a funeral home

CURRENT JOB: Executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Delaware, which provides advocacy, education, support, and housing for individuals with mental illnesses, their families, and friends

“My work as a volunteer and as a student at Walden provided me with opportunities to find issues that excited me and helped me determine how I could contribute to finding solutions. Along the way, I’ve surrounded myself with positive people who support, believe in, and educate me. This has empowered me to tackle challenging situations and overcome obstacles. Creating positive social change and contributing to our community require a lot of time and energy. Enthusiasm is noticed by others and can set us apart when pursuing our professional aspirations. Passion propels us to achieve!”

Nominate your colleagues for coverage in the next “Leading by Example” article by sending details to myWaldenImpact@waldenu.edu.