Out with the Calculators, In with the Hammers Pt. 1
Accounting Students Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity
When someone asks what really differentiates a Grace College professor from the rest, we can’t help but give a name and story to coincide. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. One name that comes to mind is Dr. Roger Stichter.
Roger is an Accounting professor at Grace of 20 years. He now has a network of around 250 Accounting graduates–his “protégés”–of which he sends monthly emails, and annual Christmas cards. If that doesn’t demonstrate the caliber of professors here, then wait until you hear this.
A few weeks ago, if you drove through a local, quiet neighborhood on the south side of Warsaw, Indiana, you would see the Grace College charter bus conspicuously parked on the street. You would find a house with wooden beams and concrete slabs in the middle of construction. You would recognize nearly 20 college students in work gloves with tools in hand, and then Roger Stichter in a ball cap and dirty jeans orchestrating it all. The group volunteered their Friday class time to help with Habitat for Humanity of Kosciusko County.
“The reason we do this is to give students a vision for the people who are helped,” said Roger, “I want to help them see that there are projects like this that they can be a part of, and show them that they can use their accounting skills to help people.”
Stichter is intricately involved with the regional institutions and organizations of the accounting world, one of them being the Indiana CPA Society. Every year the society hosts a day of service. Nearly a decade ago, Stichter decided to join in on the fun.
“It started with helping clean up an orchard located just off campus,” he said. “Students would really see the product of their efforts in a few hours.” For the next several years, Stichter connected students with a variety of local organizations including Combined Community Services, Fellowship Missions, and Habitat for Humanity the past three years, of which Stichter serves as Treasurer of the Board of Directors.
“One year, our group even made the cover of the Indiana CPA magazine as the featured service group of the year,” Roger recounted.
It is unique for a professor to give up a day of coursework and instruction to give his class a chance to work together to help people—but even more surprising, this workday takes place in the midst of a crazy week in the Accounting department—the week of the Accounting Career Fair.
The Accounting Career Fair is an intense, full-day event hosted by Stichter, where the MOCC is packed with accounting firm representatives, and students are given the opportunity to network and interview for summer internships and post-graduate positions.
“This event, while very worthwhile, is exhausting for me and the students. It’s very intentional to take that Friday off of class to demonstrate the importance of work-life balance,” states Stichter. “I teach students that everybody has to find their own balance,” he added, “because it’s typical that accountants work 45-80 hours per week.”
Bethany Okupskie, a senior accounting student spoke to this, “I think it’s really neat that Prof. Stichter intentionally does this on the week of the Accounting Fair which can be very draining for a lot of people. We talk about work-life balance and service in class all the time, so taking a class to do that is really cool.”
Stichter makes it clear that he is passionate about teaching his students something much greater than the manipulation and calculation of numbers— “Your life is not about working hard to make a lot of money. But rather, accounting gives you a platform to go out to the world and minister to a group of people you could not otherwise reach. That is the big picture. It’s all about reaching people that you could not reach if you didn’t have this education,” he stated.
Stichter referred to a C.S. Lewis quote he had presented to his students in class that morning, “Prosperity knits a man into the world. He feels like he is finding his place in it when really it is finding its place in him.”
It’s clear that Stichter’s vision has resonated with his graduates, as some of his students work for nonprofits, (not because they don’t have other options, but because they want to), and others make millions each year, but ALL of his students recognize the importance of impact in the workplace and leading lives of purpose.
“The vision is not just about learning something, it’s giving you a platform to get you out into the world and impact the world. That is the picture.”
To learn more about the Grace College Accounting Department, recognized as a top program in Indiana, visit grace.edu/majors/accounting.
Stay tuned to hear from the perspective of several accounting students, as well as the family who will move into the Habitat house!