After toiling through the core classes in my first semester at SPEA, I was thrilled to begin the nonprofit management core classes. Nevertheless, the adjustment to a class of theory after getting my hands “dirty” for two years in the nonprofit field made for a less than smooth transition. The readings on tax structures, comparing and contrasting various fields, government and economic theories – all essential to me as a future professional, but it still is a struggle to see the forest for the trees. However, when all the hard work and application becomes known, all of that muddling through quickly becomes forgotten.
In working on a project for another class, I began interviewing local church leaders on federal funding offered to faith-based initiatives. The surprising lack of knowledge quickly became the norm I heard. Instead of me asking the questions, the roles became reversed. I found myself leaning on knowledge gained throughout the entire semester: nonprofit status, IRS and government regulations, nonprofit governance and resources – all gained and learned throughout the class. The experience of shifting from a graduate student to a “nonprofit consultant” was a brand new experience. The sincerity in their voices with this enlightenment that there exists a way to assist more people through increased financial opportunities brought both comfort and excitement to both parties.
Throughout this semester, my professors have put me in touch with leading experts in their respective fields – for job opportunities, interviews for projects, and background information essential to understanding nonprofits. Learning not only takes place in the classroom but also directly in the world we are seeking to break into one day. The knowledge and connections gained this past year will bring the tools needed to assist the nonprofits I work and interact with in the future. Furthermore, it will help as I aim to create a new paradigm of service and nonprofit structure for my own entity in the future. Overall, this has been a very successful first year that all past, current, and future students at SPEA have the privilege to undertake.