A Tale of Two Alumnae:
Navigating Personal Finance
In January, two Lincoln alumnae—Claudia Crowell ’02 and Christine Downs ’06 —were guests in our Personal Finance class. They shared their real-world experiences in college and as young professionals establishing their careers. Personal Finance is one of the most popular electives with juniors and seniors at Lincoln School. With the goal of promoting financial literacy, the course is designed to provide students with the information and tools they need to meet the financial challenges they will face in the real world.
Claudia Crowell ’02 currently works for a private equity firm in Boston. Her ultimate goal, however, has been successfully launching her baking business, C. Crowell Fine Confections (http://ccrowells.com). She spoke with students about how she is working to make this part-time dream a full-time enterprise. An international relations major in college, she shared that life does not always turn out as you expect; you have to be willing to step back and reflect in order to realize that the unexpected can sometimes help you better your situation. It’s important to take the time to consider if you are really fulfilling your potential and achieving your dreams. She said, “I have been forced to relearn what I learned at Lincoln, to reconnect with that connection of being in an all-girls school that gave me such confidence to dream and take risks.” She gave valuable advice, saying, “Sometimes it is hard for women to ask for help, but don’t be afraid to reach out and say what you need.”
The presentation by Christine Downs ’06 focused on how you can get the most of college in order to launch your professional career. Christine attended Middlebury College with a double major (religion and anthropology) and a double minor (zoology and art). While speaking to the Personal Finance class, she shared how much she loved school, citing it as the main reason she wanted to attend a liberal arts college where she would have the freedom to explore her interests. She highlighted that fact that “Lincoln prepared me so well, and I was completely comfortable in the classroom sharing my ideas.” During college, she also did a number of internships to gain experience, exploring her interests and how she might develop them through her work. She also worked with the Career Services Office to build her professional network. Christine graduated from Middlebury in 2010, and six months later she landed a job in the marketing department of wealth advisory firm in Boston. However, she was forced to change her plans when a company reorganization eliminated her position. Despite this setback, she was positive about the experience because it gave her the chance to think about what she really wants to do—focus on her love of animals. Christine reminded the students, “Stay confident in who you are, and everything will work out.” No matter your age or current job situation, this is worthwhile advice for everyone striving to find her place in the world.
The students enjoyed hearing from the young alumnae, and they have shared their take-aways below.
"It was really inspiring to hear from Claudia about her story. I found it really interesting that she found a different career passion and how it was unexpected. I give her kudos for following her heart and for having the courage to do so! I learned that I should follow my heart and to stay true to myself."
"Hearing Claudia Crowell's story was extremely inspiring. She is definitely someone I look up to because of her motivation and independence as an entrepreneur. Her confidence gave me confidence in my own future. Though her life did not turn out as she had planned, she is happy with where she is. This makes me less worried and anxious about what lies ahead because what is meant to be will be. Hearing her speak also gave me a greater appreciation for my education at Lincoln because it is still affecting her and teaching her things to this day. I admire her passion and self-determination, and I hope one day I will be able to pursue what I love with such confidence and success like her."
"It was very interesting to hear about Claudia's career story. Not only was it surprising that she had started her own baking business, but it was commendable that she was doing it out of her own kitchen after coming home from a 9-5 job. It must have taken a lot of guts to do what she did, and she is someone that people should look up to for her confidence. I really enjoyed listening to her story and learned a lot from her."
"The presentation by Claudia Crowell was extremely empowering and inspiring. She spoke with confidence and hope and truly inspired me to become more optimistic about my own future. I have realized that in order to be successful in life you must find your passion and must work hard towards achieving what you love. Though she has found her passion, she is very realistic as well and realizes that in order to fulfill her dream she must not risk her job at present. The struggles she faces made her story all the more real. It was encouraging to hear that despite many moments when she feels like giving up, she continues to push herself because she knows what she is meant to do. I hope that I find my true passion in the future and am able to pursue it as confidently as she does."
"After seeing Claudia Crowell's presentation I was extremely impressed by her confidence, poise and determination. It was very inspiring to see a young woman who is articulate and not afraid to pursue her interests. I was impressed by her drive to take a risk and go after something that she loves and is passionate about - cooking/baking. She is very put together and she is an inspiration to young girls our age. Her French macaroons are as good as the ones I had in Paris!"
"I really enjoyed Christine's presentation today. She was easily relatable and honest. Her honesty was helpful because she is a recent graduate of Lincoln, and she understands what we are going through at this stage in our lives. I admire the fact that she studied a variety of things in college, and she is able to apply these interests to her career. I also admire the fact that she is positive about her recent unemployment, and she has plans to move forward in something that is of great interest to her. I think her advice to enjoy college and our time there is something I will take with me. I am happy to have had the privilege to listen to her and her story!"
"I thought that Christine's presentation was very inspiring. She told us about her college experiences and the opportunities that we should take advantage of while we are there. I like how she has graduated from Lincoln because she knows what the process was like and she was able to give us some advice. I thought it was interesting how she told us to take advantage of internships because you never know what connections can come up. Overall, I learned a lot from her and I am very glad that she was able to come to talk to us."
"Christine Downs was an extremely informative and inspiring speaker. She seems very confident with the choices she has made in life, despite the consequences that may have resulted from those decisions. Her advice was extremely valuable and she emphasized that experience is perhaps the most important quality of all. Hearing that the major and minor one chooses in college does not wholly define the rest of one's life helped me feel much more relaxed about my future. It was admiring to see how strong, cheerful, and optimistic she is. She made clear that as an individual she will not let her current state of unemployment bring her down, nor should anybody. I think that her presentation was not only motivating and useful for those entering the college and working world but for anyone that is struggling to make decisions in their life."
"I really enjoyed Christine Downs' visit; her casual and informative talk taught me a lot about what to expect in my coming years. Her advice about college and utilizing the career services office was helpful. The way she talked about her college years reduced some of the anxiety I am feeling about going to college - writing papers, getting enough material and experience for a resume, getting a job out of college, etc. It was also nice to hear, yet again, how well Lincoln prepares its students for college in regard to studying and writing. Her talk was helpful to me because I want to go into the financial/corporate world, though not necessarily marketing. I really enjoyed having Christine come to class and hope to see her again and see other speakers come to class."
"Christine Downs was yet another speaker who I really appreciated listening to. I could imagine her being a Lincoln student because she was very down to earth and she spoke somewhat casually, but for our group I found it very appropriate. I appreciated her being not too far out of college, and her youth made it really easy to relate to her. She gave really great advice and I took a lot out of what she said. I know I will use her tips in the future and hope her suggestions come in handy, as I'm sure they will. I most appreciated when she mentioned that we treasure every moment that we have and remember to thank those who helped us get to the point where we are because I think this is truly, truly important."