I made significant progress, yet I ended up back where I started. How is that possible?
In the fall of 2000, when I stepped on the Cedarville University campus as a freshman for Getting Started weekend, my parents made me get my picture taken with the campus mascot, known as “the bee”, because I was too nervous and embarrassed. I was uncovering my interests and gaining my footing as a young, independent adult.
I quickly found ministries and friendships that bartered for my time, and I realized a pattern in my behavior. I would get involved in an organization or ministry, observe and learn, and then eventually lead.
As a freshman I realized that I had a passion for supporting women in unexpected pregnancy situations, so I joined the Springfield Pregnancy Resource Center ministry. My junior year I became a co-leader of the ministry team, and by my senior year, I was their lone leader. I led our regularly scheduled ministry meetings, acted as a liaison with the pregnancy center, drove students to and from the ministry, and managed the volunteer schedule for the team.
When I was at the pregnancy center, I organized baby-related donations and counselled women, which gave me the opportunity to share Christ. I loved my four years in the pregnancy center ministry and at Cedarville, and I left prepared to not only take on my field, but also to represent Christ in a non-Christian, corporate environment.
For the next eleven years, I worked for Nationwide’s IT organization. My pattern continued. I spent years observing, learning, and tackling new initiatives and responsibilities for my team, all while completing a master’s degree at The Ohio State University.
Eventually I became the team lead. I managed contractors and determined the vision and projects for my team’s full-time employees. I managed the team’s project plans and worked directly with leadership to represent the team. In the end, I built a training organization from the ground up that positively influenced hundreds of employees and leaders across Nationwide IT.
I spent the next two years working for Nationwide Financial. I created and delivered training, wrote communications, and learned the business of retirement plans. I had a desire to lead again and a manager who supported that plan, but my past was calling.
The past has a name, and her name is Sandi Harner. She built the Professional Writing and Information Design (PWID) program at Cedarville University from the ground up, and she dedicated her life’s work to seeing it succeed. It was a program that I loved and that had prepared me well for my career. As she prepared to retire, she called on me to step in and help continue the legacy of her program at Cedarville.
It was a difficult decision to leave my career at Nationwide—a job that I loved—to enter a world I was totally unfamiliar with—the world of academia. The deciding factor hinged on one primary reason: I wanted my work to matter in eternity, not just in the moment. I saw the opportunity to work for Cedarville University as a chance to invest in the lives of students who would go out and make a difference for the kingdom of God in non-profits and secular corporate environments around the world.
Now I’m in my second year of teaching PWID at Cedarville University. God blessed me with the opportunity to lead the very classes I experienced as a student so many years ago, and I love it. It seems my pattern continues, but now, when I see the school mascot, I’m not afraid of him.
About the author
Jennifer Wingerter began teaching in Cedarville's Professional Writing and Information Design program in 2017. Prior to joining the faculty at Cedarville, she spent 13 years as a technical writer, instructional designer, and training facilitator for Nationwide's IT department and financial business. Her research interests include e-learning and mobile learning.