Derek Thomas graduated in the class of 1995 with a B.S. in Accounting.
I started my career in accounting with the regional CPA firm, Goodman Dixon Hughes LLP (f.k.a. Goodman & Company LLP). At Goodman & Company, I gained valuable experience working on financial statement audits and preparing Federal and state tax returns for individuals, corporations, partnerships, not-for-profit organizations, and estates. Although the transition from school to work was tougher than I expected, the education I received from Liberty proved to be a strong foundation to begin building a career. In December 2000, I joined KPMG LLP as a senior associate in the audit practice. Moving from a regional firm to one of the four largest firms in the world was a bit daunting. Coming from a small school and firm, I initially wondered if I could keep pace with my peers. However, I quickly learned that my previous experiences had helped me develop the necessary skills to face any challenges. I have primarily worked in our government sector since joining KPMG, which has given me great opportunities to continue growing professionally, and in October 2012, I was admitted to the partnership. In addition to my audit responsibilities, I also currently oversee campus recruiting for our Federal audit practice.
I am blessed to have had so many great individuals in my life who have helped me grow throughout my career. It is because of those individuals that I am also passionate about recruiting and mentoring younger professionals in hopes of providing them the same opportunities that I had. I am also blessed to have attended a university that not only helped me grow technically but, also and more importantly, spiritually. It is my continued faith that has allowed me to be successful and to face the toughest challenges; because, I know God is ultimately directing my path.
Words of wisdom for current students: Don’t let your fears get in the way of your dreams. You will face obstacles and adversity throughout life but never let them defeat you. Trust that God has a plan for you and be willing to walk by faith even if you don’t understand it (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Kimberly graduated in the Class of 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Financial Planning & Marketing.
I started my career with Beacon Wealth Consultants in Roanoke, VA as an intern during my junior year at Liberty, and went on to work part time as Marketing Coordinator during my senior year. I accepted the position of Client Services Manager when it became available shortly after graduation. I spent most of the next year and a half getting my Series 65 and studying for the rigorous CFP® Exam, which I passed in July 2013. At the moment, we are looking to hire some additional staff after which I will take on more of an operations role and start focusing my attention on building up my own client base as a financial advisor.
The financial services industry as a whole often gets a bad rap thanks to the many examples of greed and corruption that we see in the news. It is important for that reason alone for me to be a light in the darkness, but it is also my mission field. My time at Liberty greatly prepared me to be successful in both areas. I learned from professors who understood that “success” is not just about chasing returns and climbing the ladder, but about speaking truth into people’s lives and being a good steward of the resources and relationships entrusted to me. Dr. Falwell was known for saying, “If it’s Christian, it ought to be better.” That principle was deeply instilled through my coursework at Liberty and my professors who constantly challenged me to excel above and beyond the world’s expectations. I want clients to trust me not only because I’m ethical and good at what I do, but because I help them understand and apply the timeless principles of God’s Word to such a tangible and personal area of their lives. Each and every interaction gives me an opportunity to minister to someone in some way, and I can honestly say I love what I do.
Find something you can be passionate about, really get to know your professors, and take advantage of the many unique opportunities that Liberty has to offer. Most importantly, Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”
Matthew Toogood graduated in the class of 2010 with a degree in Business Management.
Since graduating from Liberty in 2010 I have worked exclusively in the supply chain and distribution industry. What I love most about the supply chain industry is the fast-paced environment of a distribution center. As technologies advance it is imperative that we constantly adjust our strategy and adapt to change in order to remain competitive.
I am currently an Operations Manager for Target’s newest, highly automated, food distribution center near Columbus, OH. Our building is responsible for supplying over 300 Target stores with both fresh and frozen food items.
Graduating from Liberty allowed me to enter the industry with not only a top notch education that set me apart from my peer group but also helped develop the lens in which I view business and what it means to be truly successful. The business world is crowded with individuals chasing a dollar sign and finding ways to glorify themselves, but my Professors at Liberty taught me that success is empty and meaningless if my eyes are not fixed on Jesus. This view has allowed me to remain grounded and excel in my career, not for my glory, but for His.
No matter which career you go into, ask yourself this question on a daily basis: “What will I do today that has eternal significance?”
Laura Eley graduated in the class of 2007 with a B.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology with a Minor in Human Resource Management.
Having studied Organizational Psychology and HR Management at Liberty University, Laura started her career as an intern at non-profit Focus on the Family where she contributed to the HR and global leadership development teams. She later worked in Banana Republic’s field offices as Manager of Customer Experience. In 2012 Laura joined The O. C. Tanner Company and has just been appointed a manager of Solution Design.
During my time at Liberty, I made it a point to engage in opportunities that would enlighten me of real world experiences that I might encounter in my field. It has been my experience that most graduates face the challenge of having the ambition to pursue a career in their given industry while having limited practical experience of what it is really like in the field. It is one thing to study a body of knowledge and entirely another to apply for a job, land a position, and turn that position into a career that you love for years to come. By participating in student organizations, job shadows, internships, and by sitting under the mentorship of my professors, I gained the confidence of knowing how to position my transferable knowledge, skills, and abilities on a resume, in an interview setting, and ultimately once on the job. My encouragement to you is to not only diligently apply yourself to classroom study, but equally invest your time and energy in gaining real world experiences in your field. Actively seek the wisdom of the resources around you to help you better understand what it takes to be a professional in your industry. Opportunity comes to those who relentlessly seek it out and apply themselves with hard-work and character.
Ben Taylor graduated in the class of 2013 with a double major in Marketing and Finance.
First and foremost, God receives every ounce of glory for everything I've done and will continue to do. I accepted a Category Analyst position with Acosta Sales and Marketing upon graduation and have recently been promoted into a Replenishment Insights Manager role. Liberty provided the proper foundation to be successful and contribute in Corporate America from day one. Business, even at the corporate level, will always be about relationships. The education and mentorship I received from Liberty University continues to be a difference maker in everything I do from corporate sales calls to serving in the community.
Own your development, serve and love others, work as if you are working for the Lord. Liberty will put the necessary tools in your toolbox, how much they are developed when you graduate is on you.