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A Long Lesson in Closing Doors

Ms Wilson graduated from Washington and Lee (2006) after completing a large amount of coursework in Poverty Studies and earning a degree in Economics. Before leaving Washington and Lee, Ingrid worked to bring the Campus Kitchens Project to the W&L campus and the program operates today. Those experiences were the beginning of Ingrid’s lifelong pursuit of creative social entrepreneurship and service.

"My world felt very overwhelming as I called to turn down the Goldman Sachs job and instead signed up for my Shepherd internship in DC," writes Wilson.

“My world felt very overwhelming as I called to turn down the Goldman Sachs job and instead signed up for my Shepherd internship in DC,” writes Wilson.

When I was a junior at Washington and Lee I saw a flyer for an internship on our business school bulletin board and applied for a summer position with Goldman Sachs. Much to my surprise, I was asked to interview a few weeks later. Giving very little thought to what I was getting myself into and caught up in the prestige of such an offer, I flew up to New York for a very intense day of interviews. I donned a new suit, feigned enthusiasm surprisingly well, but truth be told, I had very little knowledge of the banking industry. After mentioning my beloved family dogs more than once in my last interview, I left the day one hundred percent certain that I would not be returning to Wall Street that summer. You can imagine my shock when I was offered that internship a few days later.

For weeks afterwards I was fraught with indecision and anxiety. As it turned out, I had very little interest in risk management for investment firms. Friends and classmates congratulated me on landing such a great position but somewhere in the back of my mind I felt uncomfortable taking the internship. In an ironic twist (and much to my parents dismay), my coursework in both Economics and the Poverty Studies were inspiring and interesting me more and more. My world felt very overwhelming as I called to turn down the Goldman Sachs job and instead signed up for my Shepherd internship in DC. Closing that door on such a prestigious offer was a huge leap of faith for me, but one that truly has paid off in the long run.

My summer at the DC Central Kitchen was life changing to say the least. I lived with four other interns in a transitional housing program (think fancy version of a homeless shelter) and worked both with the DC Central Kitchen and the Campus Kitchens Project. I particularly enjoyed working with the DC Central Kitchen where I helped facilitate their job-training program. I worked alongside the homeless, jobless and hopeless who gained confidence and hard skills before my eyes. I also spent two days a week learning about the ins and outs of the Campus Kitchens Project on a national scale. That experience helped me to launch a branch of that very same program at Washington and Lee. That program still runs today and has served over 200,000 meals in the Lexington area. The richness of those experiences changed me as a person and showed me that sometimes closing doors on certain things open even greater opportunities in the long run.

Since my Shepherd Internship I have explored a number of different career paths, gotten married, studied HIV in South Africa for a year, become a mom of two children and completed my masters in Social Work. Currently I live in Charlotte, NC with my husband Jonathan and two babies Oak and Sedley. Jonathan will complete his residency in Primary Care next July and our hope is to one-day work side-by-side providing social work and healthcare to the undeserved. With two babies under two, life permits very little margin for volunteering and caring for the poor. However, just like every day since finishing my Shepherd Internship, I come alive and find a great deal of meaning in serving the underserved. So with the space we have, we try and serve our neighbors in our transitional neighborhood and organize volunteerism with our church community. Those activities are an essential part of my life and faith and something I might know very little of if I had not made that leap years ago.


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