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A Jack of All Trades and Master of None? No, That's Definitely Not Me

If it were not for the interdisciplinary studies degree [at NGU], I would not have been flexible enough to move from local missions to affordable housing developer to public official and now to a private real estate investment firm.

Dr. Bruce gave me the audacity to believe that focusing on several things does not have to make me a jack of all trades and a master of none, but rather I can pursue excellence in whatever situation I find myself in.

The first example was when I went to him for advice regarding my major. I was not happy with the major I entered with and was simply seeking. Dr. Bruce helped me decide to switch majors into [interdisc, with components in history, English, and political science].

While speaking with Dr. Bruce was always impactful, the greater importance came from other students. I was challenged constantly in new ways by attending classes in multiple disciplines with students who thought differently than I did. Another interdisc student might be focusing on Christian studies or business, so their perspective would be varied and require a more holistic consideration of the issue at hand.

After NGU, I was given an opportunity to practice a portion of my senior seminar thesis, which focused on asset-based community development. I gave up my goal to attend law school and moved to a disadvantaged community in Greenville, where I worked with local ministries, schools, and community members to bring new life to the area. I personally went through the low-income rental and home ownership process and was nominated as the community president. I ran a community garden — [with] over $100,000 in donations . . . and more than 2,500 volunteers from Maine to Miami — where we grew food and gave it back to the community.

Eventually, I began working for an affordable housing nonprofit, where I secured funding to build and manage new affordable housing in the community I lived in. I was able to continue ministering to low-income families, but also began to build a network and work history.

I have created value in myself for others because of my flexibility. People have said about unusual or particularly difficult projects, “Just give that to Andrew. He will find a way to get it done.”

Currently, I am an asset manager for a $400+ million real estate portfolio. We own and manage multifamily and assisted living facilities. I gained experience in this field while working for the affordable housing nonprofit. My flexibility and analytical skill continue to afford me success in this new endeavor.

I hope I have truly synthesized the values from my interdisc experience with my work experience and newly acquired [Master of Business Administration] degree . . . to be an excellent employee capable of functioning at a high level in many different areas.

Interdisc students are often considered jacks of all trades and a master of none. My intent and effort was to be excellent in all that I did. This seems to be paying off. I believe God is giving me success . . . with a call to continue giving back.

Andrew Ratchford
Class of 2011
Asset Manager
Graycliff Capital Partners LLC

                    

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