Growing up in Springfield, Ohio, Shannon Little took advantage of Wittenberg's post-secondary education option for two years before starting her college career with aspirations of becoming a veterinarian. Everything changed after she took an economics class – to her surprise, Little discovered a passion for economics and realized she needed to make some changes if she wanted to find success and happiness in a career.
"I'm not sure how long it would have taken me to recognize my path was wrong," Little said. "All of my planning and preparation had been built around a life as a veterinarian."
During an internship at a veterinarian's clinic, she discovered that she did not like the environment or the work. Although she knew she had to make a change, she didn't know she could change her major and refocus her education until an economics professor realized her dilemma and stepped in to help.
"Dr. (Fred) Tiffany understood the issues I faced and provided the support and advice I needed to begin putting my education on track," Little said. "It wasn't easy for me to suck it up and say that my experiences at the vet clinic weren't fulfilling to me."
Little dove head-first into the economics program and during her junior year she completed a semester program at American University in Washington, D.C. Her internship included attending hearings at the United States Senate, meetings led by Federal Reserve System Chairman Ben Bernanke, and working on both international and domestic economic policy programs with the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The experience taught her that she needs more than a computer to enjoy a fulfilling career. She needs interaction with people.
"I discovered I didn't want to crunch numbers," she said. "Financial planning that includes comprehensive planning for families in need, with an emphasis on community involvement, and finding solutions to health care problems, hold great interest for me.
"I want to give back," Little continued. "Wittenberg's financial generosity made my education possible, and the genuine concern of the faculty made the experience of learning more intense by pushing us beyond the traditional psychology of how people think."
Patterning her life after two strong women – her mother, who she calls "my best inspiration," and her grandmother – Little secured a position as a financial planner before graduation.
"I'm interested in pursuing my master's in the future, and it would be incredible to someday work for the Federal Reserve," she said.
- Written by Phyllis Eberts '00
- Photo by Robbie Gantt