FTG 0018 - Football, Finance, and Faith with Gridiron Great Stefen Wisniewski ’10 and Finance Pro Hilary Wisniewski ‘13


In this episode, Hilary & Stefen Wisniewski share great stories and insights that can help any Scholar, and that will likely be of particular interest for student athletes & student leaders trying to juggle it all, those interested in careers in finance or in non-profits, scholars who will be starting new roles remotely, and students with a strong religious identity. It will also be of interest for fans of Penn State Football, the Philadelphia Eagles, and/or Kansas City Chiefs.

Guest Bios:

Stefen Wisniewski ’10 Education recently retired from a ten-year career in the National Football League playing on the offensive line for the Kansas City Chiefs (twice), Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars, and the then-Oakland Raiders. He won Super Bowls LII with the Eagles and LIV with the Chiefs after being drafted 48th overall in the 2011 NFL draft by the Raiders. He played collegiately for the Nittany Lions, including a Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl berth in 2008 and a Capital One Bowl win in 2009. He was an ESPN Academic All-American in 2008, 2009, and 2010. He earned his BS in Secondary Education with a focus on English Communications with Honors from Penn State’s College of Education in 2010. Stefen is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He plans to begin a career in Christian pastoral ministry.

Hilary (Ford) Wisniewski ’13 Liberal Arts is a remote Financial Analyst for the Dallas, TX based Seed Company, a non-profit that translates the Bible into mother-tongue dialects around the world where she manages projects in West Africa and an accounting internship program. Before joining them in 2017, she worked as a financial analyst for ExxonMobil in Houston, TX. She earned her BS in Economics and International Studies, minors in French and German, with Honors from Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts in 2013. Her professional interests include non-profit management, cross-cultural training, and financial modeling.

Episode Specifics:

In our conversation, Hilary and Stefen share their experiences and insights on:

· Picking Penn State – and the Schreyer Honors College – for both academics and athletics

· Choosing your major – from economics to education

· The importance of developing your communication skills regardless of major

· Establishing priorities to achieve greatness in and out of the classroom

· Stefen’s reflections on playing for the Nittany Lions at Beaver Stadium

· The value of the living learning community in Atherton & Simmons Halls at University Park

· Making the most of funding opportunities to gain a global perspective by studying abroad and getting involved on campus

· Writing a thesis in a different major – and language!

· What it’s like being a professional athlete

· Lessons in discipline and resilience in an up and down profession

· Achieving the peak of your profession, like winning two Super Bowl rings with the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs

· The importance of finding an anchor and purpose – for Stefen, through his faith

· Applying for opportunities regardless of which college at Penn State you graduate from

· Leveraging Penn State’s size to prepare for work in large corporation

· Challenges and opportunities as a trailing partner to someone whose career involves frequent moves

· Strategies for starting a job remotely for an in-person firm or non-profit

· Making the shift from a large corporation to a non-profit – what is different, and what translates

· Thoughts on respectful competition and competitors turned colleagues and working with people from different backgrounds and identities

· Moving on to a second career when the first one is time-limited

· Being humble and opening yourself up to learning and to mentoring

· Finding community involvement even when you have to move frequently

· Taking advantage of all the opportunities the College has to offer

· Embracing a humble, growth mindset in everything you do all the time


Schreyer Honors College Links:






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Make a Gift to Benefit Schreyer Scholars

• Join the Penn State Alumni Association


Credits & Notes:

This content is available in text form here.

This show is hosted, produced, and edited by Sean Goheen ‘11 Lib (Schreyer).

The artwork was created by Tom Harrington, the College’s Web Developer.

The sound effect is “Chinese Gong,” accessed via SoundBible used under Creative Commons License.

The theme music is “Conquest” by Geovane Bruno, accessed via Pixabay and used under Creative Commons License.

Greeting scholars and welcome to following the Gong, a podcast of the Shuire Honors College at Penn State. Following the Gone Tatsu inside conversations with our scholar alumni to hear their story so you can gain career in life advice and it spanned your professional network. You can hear the true bread of how schollar alumni have gone on to shape the world after they rind the gone and graduated with honors, and learn from their experiences so you can use their insights in your own journey. This show is proudly sponsored by the Scholar Alumni Society, a constituent group of the Penn State Alumni Association. I'm your host, Shawan Jheen, class of two thousand and eleven, and college staff member. If this is your first time joining us, welcome. If you're a regular listener, welcome back. In this episode, Hillary and Stephen Wisnewski shared great stories and insights that can help any scholar and that will likely be a particular interest for student athletes and student leaders trying to juggle it all, those interested in careers in finance or nonprofits, scholars who will be starting new roles remotely and students with a strong religious identity. It will also be an interest for fans of Penn State football, the Philadelphia Eagles and or Kansas City chiefs. Stephen Misnewsti, class of two thousand and ten, recently retired from a ten year career in the national football league, playing on the offensive line for the Kansas City chiefs, Pittsford steelers, Philadelphi Eagles, Jacks Andville Jaguars and the then Oakland Raiders. He won super bowls fifty two with the Eagles and fifty four with the chiefs. After being drafted forte overall in the two thousand and eleven NFL draft by the raiders, he played collegiately for the Nittney Lions, including a big ten championship in Rolls Bullbirth in two thousand and eight and a capital one bowl win in two thousand and nine. He was an ESPN academic all American in two thousand and eight two thousand and nine. In Two thousand and ten, here and his BS and secondary education with a focus on English communications, with honors from Penn State's College of Education in two thousand and ten, he intends to return to school for a Master of divinity degree. Hilary was new STI class of two thousand and thirteen. Is a remote financial analyst for the Dallas Texas Base C Company, a nonprofit that translates the Bible into Motherton dialects around the world, where she manages projects in West Africa and in counting internship program before joining them, in two thousand and seventeen, she worked as a financial analyst for exomobile and Houston. She earned her PS and Economics and international studies miners in French and German, with honors from Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts in two thousand and thirteen. Her Professional Interests Include nonprofit management, cross cultural training and financial modeling. In our conversation, Hillary and Stephen share their experiences and insights on picking Penn State and the Shier Honors College for both academics and athletics, Choosing Your Major, from economics to education, the importance of developing your communication steals, regardless of your major, establishing priorities to achieve greatness in and out of the classroom. Stephen's reflections on playing for the nintey lions at beaver stadium, the value of the living learning community in Atherton and Simmons Halls at University Park, making the most of funding opportunities to gain a global perspective by studying abroad and getting involved on campus. They also talk about writing a thesis in a different major and language, what it's like being a professional athlete, Lessons and discipline and resilience in an up and down profession, achieving the peak of your profession. And yes, we'll talk about winning the Super Bowl with the Philadelphi Eagles and Kansas City chiefs, the importance of finding anchor and purpose for Stephen through his faith, applying for opportunities, regardless of which college at Penn state you graduate from, Leveraging Penn state size to prepare for work in large corporations, challenges and opportunities as a trailing partner to someone whose career involves frequent moves, strategies for starting a job remotely for an in person firm or nonprofit, making the shift from a Large Corporation to a nonprofit. What is different and what translates? Thoughts on respectful competition and competitors turn colleagues and working with people from different backgrounds and identities. We also talk about moving on to a second career when the first one is time limited, being humble and opening yourself up to learning and to mentoring, finding community involvement, even when you have to move frequently, taking advantage of all the opportunities to college has to offer, and embracing a humble growth mindset in everything you do all the time. With that, let's dive into our conversation with Stephen and Hilary. Was News Tea, Hillary, stuff and thank you so much for joining us here today on following the gone really appreciate you both coming on getting thumbs up. Thank you. I want to get started really early here and really set the stage for your shared journey. How did you two first meet? Mid Hill, we have known each other since we were little kids, like first grade, second grade. Our families were good friends. I was good friends with her brother. She was good friends and played soccer for ten years with my sister. So we kind of knew each other, you know,...

...growing up. Went to the same middle school and our families were close. You know, good friends, went to church together, but we didn't start dating until long after college and we ended up at Penn state together as well. So we kind of knew each other friends but didn't start and start dating until till much later. Sounds like your college stories will be a little bit more individual and then your your stories will come together throughout this conversation. Stephen, you're a little bit older, so I'm going to start with you. Can you tell us about your recruitment process and how you came to pick not only penn state but also the Shuire Honors College as part of that? Yeah, so when I was looking at schools, obviously, I mean I had a lot of factors. You know, football was a big factor for me, but I also wanted to get a great education and you know education it's always been something I took really seriously. Finished third in my class in high school and wanted to not just playful botball at a great place but go somewhere I could get a great education. And you know, as I was getting recruited by Penn State, I started to learn about the Shire owners college and it's just it sounded like a perfect fit for me and that I could, you know, play football at a big time division one program and also just getting absolutely, you know, amazing elite education. And so as I started looking around, I realize, like man, Penn state, you really can't beat that combination for an athlete of having the opportunity to play football in the big ten, you know, play for a great program like Penn State, and also get the great academics that I got in the Shire Honors College. I would definitely say I appreciate hearing that as a staff member in the college and I'm sure coach returneut probably would have appreciated hearing that as well. Now, Hilary, how did you come to pick and study at Penn State? Like many people to end up at Shire? When I was applying to schools, I applied all over the map, I thought, and I wasn't focused on on Sports, obviously. So mine is purely academic. I wanted the best education I could I could find and, like many people, I thought I needed to go to a private school that was very small and and a lot more expensive than a state school. And it's funny. Steffen and I had been friends and he said, we'll have you thought about Penn State? And I said, you know, I've applied, I'm not sure, and he said, well, why don't you look at Shryer? And he kind of explained to me all the benefits and just the great education that he was receiving while at school here. So he's kind of the reason I applied to Stryer. He's the reason I found out about it and and like he said, it kind of the perfect combination. I think a lot of stire could students would say that it's the perfect combination. You get to be at a large state school with big sports and all the amenities of being at a big state university, but you get the small school feel of the private you know, the owners college feel. So I loved the combination and that's how I ended up there. And then I studied economics. So I didn't want to be in business, but I love Calculus, which not many people love Calculus. I guess a lot of Shire could probably do. I Love Calculus, so I think I like the combination of theoretical economics with with the Calculus and the computer science involved. So that's how I ended up setting economics as well. We'll Stephen, thank you for being an ambassador on behalf of the college back in the day helping Hillary find her place here. Now I'm curious what were your career ambitions coming into college stuff and and how did your choice of major inform those post college plans for you? Yes, so I I thought I had an awesome English teacher my senior year high school. Was Name was Mr Bernatt, and I just I just loved what he did and I feel like he wasn't just teaching English. She was trying to help us kind of grow as people and develop our character. How I was thinking about kind of big life questions and I just thought, man, wouldn't that be cool to teach high school English? I'd probably be a would have been a, you know, high school football coach as well, but really just try to have an impact on the kids and that's what I thought I wanted to do. So I studied secondary education, English communications option and I really loved it. Student taught for a whole year at State College high which was an awesome experience, and enjoyed, you know, teaching there for a year and while I'll probably never, you know, teach in a high school setting, maybe I'll get into coaching at some point, maybe not, but I'm glad I studied education. I feel like I learned how people learn and I learn how to communicate and explain things well and I feel like, no matter what you do in life, like those are tremendously helpful things to know, to know how people learn, to know how to communicate effectively and teach things, and I've used that, you know, in my life so far and I know I'll continue to use it even if I don't ever teach in the formal high school setting. Yeah, I imagine this is going to come up later in our conversation when we pivot to post football and your kind of career plans going forward, but while we're still on your collegiate days, how did you balance the demands of being a done athlete at a big Time College football program like and...

...state with the demands of being a scholar? Well, you are also involved in other areas of campus life. So how did you balance that, and do you have any favorite memories and learning experiences that you could share with our current students? It was definitely tough to fit everything I wanted to do in. I mean I was trying to be a great student, a great football player and be involved in these other campus groups. And what I always tell people is it comes down to priorities. You can get kind of the most important thing and se a most important thing you want to get done, but you got to have it ranked so that you kind of know how you make your decisions. What are you going to prioritize? What are you going to really make sure you get done? And at the end of the day, what I tell kind of football players is, like you might have less time for fun like that, and that's okay if you're really trying to put in a lot of hours being great at as a football player and putting a lot of hours to be a great student. Like might have to play less video games and hang out with your friends less, but, like, I think it's worth it, and that's that's a decision every kid has to make. What are you going to prioritize? What are you going to emphasize? But in life there's there's going to be time to get your your top two priorities done. Maybe you got a little time for a third, but it's all about choosing what's most important to you. Absolutely. I've worked with students in the past and what I've always said is, you know, if you're a student here, academics needs to be top priority. Your family and if you are a person of faith, will throw that in there as well as a for a kind of top priority. And then all those other things. You have to choose watch pieces of your involvement are really important to you after that. So really, really good advice stuff. And do you have a favorite memory that you wanted to share from either you're playing days or something else on campus? Yeah, I think from playing football it pretty pretty clearly. I would say in two thousand and eight my sophomore year, we played Michigan State at home. It was the last game of the year. We are ten and one and if we won the game we would have been big ten champions. So, you know, we play Michigan State, we win and we smash them like it was a blowout, which is cool because you got to enjoy the second half because we're winning by so much and they had roses on the field for us because we were going to rose bowl and got the you know, hold the big ten championship trophy after the game. So that was an amazing experience for me. I mean playing in beaver stadium every time I got a chance was was an amazing experience, but to get to do that and win a championship with the crowd going nuts, it was even like snow in a little bit. It was just like the coolest like football day it could be. And Yeah, that was thousand last but obviously just getting the play in front of a hundred eight thousand people every Saturday was an unbelievable experience. I'll never forget that and I really think that's kind of the coolest atmosphere and football. I don't usually admit this publicly, but it I think it's kind of cooler than NFL stadiums. I mean there's some there's some cool NFL stadiums and obviously some great places to play, but some special about Happy Valley on a game day. Man, I don't know, it's hard to explain, but I loved it. No, I totally get I think there's something about the pageantree is the word you often see around college football, and there's something special about those Saturdays all across the country, but especially here in a Happy Valley. And I just looked up the score of that game. The eight ranked Penn State Nitty Lyons one hundred and forty nine eighteen over the fifteen range Michigan State spartans that day. And so not only did you get to raise the beautifully and grand trophy but also the big ten trophy and at the time at the time stuff and that was like the nicest championship ring you got. So I guess more to come, but definitely. And so, Hilary, I want to hear a little bit about your experiences as a student. So I know you had some opportunities from our questionnaire to live out some of the mission tenants in the College of both building a global perspective and creating opportunities for leadership with some of your involvement. Can you tell us about what you did and what you've got out of those experiences? Coming into Penn state as a freshman can be kind of intimidating, right you're at a giant university, lots of New People, you don't know anyone. And for me, as a scholar, I really benefited. I lived in honors housing my first few years at Penn State. I really benefited from the community in Atherton, getting to know other scholars, getting to other people in your major. It was it was a good it was a good place to land at a unfamiliar place, if you will. So I benefited from that. And then also I took advantage stryer helps fund me to I studied abroad. I mean I went abroad three times and tryer helps me fund that. So I spent a summer in Africa and Cameroon and then they helped fund that. And then I spent two semesters abroad and they they got kind of creative with me and I loved that about shriars that they allowed me. I took a leave of absence from Penn State for a year so I could directly enroll in these foreign universities. So I had advisors that would I'd call them once I got there and say, does this class match up to what I needed to count for, and they were. They're really flexible with me, and I was in two different countries with different languages and they would find someone that could translate a syllabus and make sure the they they match. So I love the flexibility that they provided...

...and it gave me unbelievable experiences abroad. I was in France and in Germany and I spent a year there. So that was just a really good benefit and the attention that I needed from my advisors and from the Honors College to help me do that was unbelievable. Amazing opportunities that definitely are impacting what you're doing now, but we'll get to that in a little bit. What about when you were on campus? was there any kind of groups that you were involved with? You know obviously Stephan's playing football. What kind of clubs and organizations were you a part of? So Stephen and I were both involved with campus crusade, which is a Christian Ministry on campus. I think we both served as leaders in that organization. So leading groups, mentoring younger students. I really loved that. I was mentored by someone in the in the organization and then I ended up mentoring a group of younger women. So I really benefited from that. And then also with the Honors College, I helped a little bit with the recruiting and the summers orientation, the orientation to start every year for a freshman. So I was involved without as well. Awesome and I think that's great that you were paying it forward both in the college and in the kind of broader campus community with crew. So obviously there are academics and for a quick hit for both of you, do you remember your thesis and what you wrote about and, more importantly, what you learned from writing those theces? Yeah, so my my topic was big concept. They call it moral education or character education. Basically the idea that, you know, in the context of education you're trying to develop morality, critical decisionmaking, processing right, wrong, what what kind of decision you're going to make in life, and I was studied how to do that in the context of a high school English classroom, studying literature and just tried to develop kind of a way to do that around a book or two and just try to get kids making decisions, trying to think out things before they do them, and it was fun. I mean it's challenging to try to you know, you're trying to get inside the head of a sixteen year old and trying to think how do they think, how do they reason, how do they make make moral decisions? But it's just the process of trying to get them to delve into actions and consequences and getting them to think about kind of how that determines their life is is, I think, something that can be beneficial. So many kids just they kind of do things and don't think about it, to be honest, so getting them to delve into that and trying to develop, you know, they're moral decisionmaking. Yeah, my thesis wasn't actually in my major and I like the benefit of the scholar program that allows you to explore thesis that you may not it might not line up with exactly what you're doing in your career, but something you're very passionate about. So when I was in France, I was I took a literature class about a French philosopher, deter row, and I was able to do my thesis research when I was in France and then when I when I brought it back, I did my thesis in French literature. So I did comparative literature analysis of a couple of deteros writings and it was an awesome experience to do something a little outside of the box of my economics major. Had A great adviser and it was a fun experience. I don't know if many people would say writing in a different language, you know, a fifty page thesis, is fun, but for me I enjoyed it. I think that's the type of thing our scholars like to take on, those challenges and putting yourself out of your comfort zone. Now we're going to get into the football part of this podcast, which is obviously a big thing in your life and career stuff, and so you played in the NFL for ten years and you just recently retired, and that is well beyond the average for most offensive lineman. You played for several teams across the country, some that were not playoff teams, others where you reached the absolute pinnacle of the sport. Can you tell us about the ups and downs of pursuing a career as a professional athlete, and I'd be particularly interested for our students to hear about moving around and having both active seasons off seasons and how you approached that different waves of activity throughout the year? Yeah, I mean it's definitely a it's a weird job and it's very challenging. I always tell people it's a really hard job, but it's a good job. I mean it's very physically demanding, mentally demanding. I tell people, you know, it's a kind of job where every day you got to show up at work and you got to be ready to go a hundred miles an hour because if you're not, some guys go on a hundred miles an hour trying to crush me, run me over, take my job, make me look bad. It requires a lot of endurance, kind of mental strength. You it's really a mental toughness, contest and mental endurance, I guess I would say, because you got to do it every day, every day. Like you said, it's like that in season it's super intense for five months of the year and then the allseason. You know, the other seven months you're still working, you're still training, but it's not quite as intense. So you got to learn how to balance. I'm going a hundred miles an hour every day and then they off either I got to take it down a notch, I got to recover, I got to take care of my body, I got to take care of my mind, take care of my heart, kind of restore, rejuven aid and be ready to go, you know, back full speed the next time the season comes around. So there's definitely an art to understanding the mindset of it and just how to prepare your body, how to prepare your mind for the rigors of a season. But, like you said, it's it's a long process a whole NFL career. There's there's times where,...

I mean I was on some really bad teams, you know. We won three games, four games out of sixteen and it was frustrating. I mean I'm just used to win in in college when in high school. So for me to like I'm still putting in the same work, the same effort, trying to be great every day and to not see the results as a team was frustrating. In fact, my first six years didn't have a winning season. On one point lost sixteen games in a row, which is like just the ultimate depressions as an athlete. Finished one season Owen six as a raider and then the next season we started ohen ten and it's just like man, I don't even remember what it feels like to win. Like this is this is rough. But my seventh season is actually I married Hilary before my seventh season and then it's crazy, all the sudden I started winning. So I say that Hillary is my good luck charm because before I married Hillary, zero winning season, zero playoffs, and since Mary Hillary for playoff appearances, three super bowls appearances and to wins. So she'd been my good left charm and additionally a lot of other things. Definitely kind of went from losing to winning and even after winning the the Eagle Super Bowl, I mean kind of had some some tough times after that. Got benched, I believe, unfairly, and then got cut by the Eagles, ended up unemployed for a while, kind of waiting around train and waiting get signed by the chiefs and sure enough, go win another super bowl. So it really was a roller coaster of a career for me. But my attitude was always and it's hard because so much of my career is without in my control. You know, there's there's so much I can control, but whether a team wants to cut you our bench, Shit. It's not always based on performance and kind of how you're what team wants to sign you where, where you end up moving in the countries not necessarily really up to your control. So so much of it, I just believe, is like you know what my mindset was? I'm going to be the best player I can every day. I'm going to have a growth mindset. I'm always be trying to improve, I'm going to try to be the hardest working guy and every team I'm on I'm going to try to have the best attitude of every team I'm on. I'm going to be always trying to learn. So football is the physical sport, but there's a lot of mental side to a right understanding. Defense has schemes, x's and no's, angles, anticipating what a defense is going to do and so much of that can be learned and grown over time and just different techniques of how to block people. You know, it might look simple on TV, but whether you make a block or not is kind of depending on whether your foot moved six inches in one direction or six inches in another, or whether your body position slightly off slightly on, and just analytics of that as something. Of all I was always trying to grow at. But essentially my my attitude was, you know what, I'm going to do the best I can every day, I'm going to try to grow and I'm just gonna leave the rest up to God. But basically how I thought of it. You know, I can control maybe ten percent of what's going on in my football career, but I believe God a sovereign. He's got control of the other ninety percent. I tried to just submit it up to him, but it was crazy with some of the ups and downs. But during the downs, you know, my faith in Christ really is what carried me through. And during the up, I mean God was was still the best part of my life, even in the ups. But the UPS were pretty fun. I got to say. I'll talk about those for a little bit. Man, win a super bowl is an unbelievable experience and being a Philadelphia Eagle was really cool. You know, I'm from Pittsburgh but, you know, play depends date. I'm a Pennsylvania Guy, so it was really cool to be in that city. I mean unbelievable football city. I mean that's city was losing their minds during that process, kind of before the Super Bowl and after. Yeah, you you're an eagles fan, right, so you were pretty excited, but man it, I mean that's city lost their minds like it was. It was so much fun. I think it's cool any time to win a super bowl, but like that was the eagles for super bowl ever. So like those people were. I've never seen people that excited in my life. I mean that's Super Bowl parade was one of the one of the best days of my life, just the energy, the the joy of the fans and just like the when Eagles fans would like thank me for, know, being a part of winning, it was super like it was the most genuine heartfelt thanks. Like people thanked me as if I was a doctor who like cured their child of cancer, because, like it was like they're waiting for their waiting for a cure for this disease, for fifty years or sixty years, basically however long they've been alive, if they're eagles fans, right, or waiting for someone to bring the Super Bowl and the fact that I was a part of that. It was so cool to just be genuinely thanked by all the eagles fans. But now what a world win that season was. Man, we we start off playing great whinning, lots of games where the number one, see, where the favorite. Everybody thinks we're going to win the Super Bowl. And we have some injuries, you know, most notably to quarterback Carson Wentz, and bunch of other players get hurt too, and then, you know, the sentiment of most people's out. Well, they can't win a super bowl. I got the backup quarterback, they got all these injuries, they can't do it. And sure enough, we embrace the underdog mindset, even wearing underdog masks, as many of our fans did, which was pretty cool. But we fed off that, you know, we didn't care what anybody else thought about what our chances were. We just we believe we were...

...going to win it and we didn't let anyone tell us otherwise. So it was fun to go through that underdog in the first round of the playoffs, underdog, and then it's championship, underdog to Tom Brady and the Super Bowl and just one by one, beat the Falcons, beat the Vikings and sure enough, beat the the greatest of all time, Tom Brady, in the Super Bowl. So as many super bowls as Tom has, I'm happy to know he has one less because of me and I in our eagles team. So yeah, that was that was an unbelievable, unbelievable experience and so blessed that I can be a part of that. Yeah, and I would say to Stephen's credit, winning, as people like hearing from an NFL player, but winning a super bowl, really open the doors for him to be able to go and speak to young athlete, to young men, and to share that, you know, I guess, to share how to how to learn how to be a leader, how to learn how to be consistent and in being a stand up guy. And he really took advantage of being able to speak to coach at young young player football camp to really pour into other people and to kind of share the gift of winning a super bowl and giving advice to other people that really, really took it to heart. I think that's a great point, Hilary, and circling back to the beginning of your your comment stuff and hilary, thank you, because it sounds like everybody in Philadelphia and in Kansas City can thank you for being a part of this and helping exactly right. But as an eagles fan, which Stephen was seeing me fist pump on Timor here, I want to say thank you one of the best days my life, short of the birth of my child and my wedding day. I remember I was just after I moved back to Pennsylvania. I got to watch you with my mom, who got me into sports, which was crazy. She just walked outside and just screamed at the top of her loans and I'm sure that was just like millions of other people who bleed green. So thank you for that. I don't want to do all too much on my eagles fandom, but I did want to actually kind of bring up something that you mentioned. You talked about your faith and I be curious. You know, I listened to another podcast interview that you did a few months back before Super Bowl fifty five and you talked a lot about how your faith impacted your career as an NFL player and I'd love to hear it's a little bit more on what it's like in an industry where there's so many distractions and so much, you know, the paychecks are rather large for some players and you know be distractions, and how your faith impacted your ability to not also as a student, how you know that's a big part of your identity and I'd love to just dig a little bit deeper into that real quickly. Yeah, absolutely so. Essentially, I think my faith in Christ really helped me stay grounded during all the things that happened to me during my career. Like I said, there's a lot of ups and downs, there's a lot of like challenges your identity. Right as an athlete, and this is true, and and a lot of careers like, your identity can become so wrapped up in what you do that when things don't go so well for what you're doing, it can like kind of shake you to your core, right, if your whole identities wrapped up and what you do and all the sudden you know you're underperforming, you're injured, you get fired whatever. It can like really shake you and it at times like that it comes down to like, well, what's your foundation? You know, what's what's that thing that really kind of supports you and anchors you? And if if we don't have a solid anchor, I think we get we get crushed, you know. But for me my anchor was my faith in Christ and even when things were going really badly, I really believe that that God loved me, that he was with me, that that I could trust him, that he he is a good God and that I that he works all things for my good. Is What it said in the Bible to those who love God, God works all things for our good. So having those kind of truth of the Bible that I studied, meditated on and try to live out those, those were kind of my anchor, talking about who God is, and it really to me that that was my support during tough times, but that was my guide. You know, I really try to live my life based on the principles of the Bible and that kind of guides everything I do and it's it's made the bad times way better because I believe that that Jesus is with me and carrying me. But even in the good times, God's been my joy and my relationship with him is is truly better than even when in Super Bowl is having success in fame and all that stuff. So it's it's definitely been my guide and tough times and it's been my joy and good times. But, like you said, it also helps to eliminate from distractions because, like you said, you know there's a lot of money in football and there's a lot of potential distractions that that can kind of pull you away from being the best football player you can be. But you know, I try to look at money as a gift from God and you know that ultimately I believe that that all I have is ultimately God's. I'm a steward of it, but he owns it and I believe I'll be held accountable for what I did with my life, what I did with my wealth, what I do with my time. So I don't I don't waste it on myself. Obviously I'm allowed to spend a little bit on myself, but I try to use it to bless others and me and Hillary of have done a lot of that and enjoyed doing that. Blessing others with with the money God's giving us, but, like hill you mentioned...

...earlier, also using my time to to try to teach others and bless others because ultimately, you know, I just believe God's completely changed my life, so I try to share that with others and use that to be a blessing to others. I think that's really inspirational and even if you are not necessarily a person of faith, I think you used a really good word in there, which is an anchor. So finding something that really helps ground you, especially if you go on to be really successful, and something that can help route you and keep you in a place where you have perspective. Hillary, I want to give you a little bit of a chance to shine here after we've heard Stephen's story to date. You come out of college and you start working for X on mobile and I want to hear a little bit about that and then, if you can share about the really cool opportunity that you are working on now post x on Mobil. So when I was a senior at Penn State, I was interviewing and just trying to decide where my career would start, and it's interesting because Xon came to penn state and was interviewing students for a finance or an accounting role and I wasn't in the business school but I applied for it anyway and I remember walking into my interview and it was a shire alum that was interviewing me that worked for X on, and he said, I know you're not in the business school, but I know what it takes to be a scholar and I know that you'll be qualified. So that was a cool start to have someone knowing what the honors college brought to the table in terms of my interviewing capabilities. So yes, I started at Xon right out of school and because I had an ECON and computer science background, they put me in more of a data on analytics role as opposed to just a finance role. So I was creating analytic tools and to do their financial reporting. What's which was a really cool environment. You know you're creating new things, you're innovating, your finding efficiencies and I loved that part of the job and it reached all across the company, which was really cool. And I could start working at this large corporation and it certainly wasn't intense environment. You know, it's competitive and and I think being at Penn state with so many students. You know, I felt very prepared for it. I felt like the Honors College prepared me for the rigor that would be in my first job to the point where I was I was innovating and creating tools they hadn't had before. And one of the coolest things was was about six months into my job I had created a reporting tool using analytics and using coding and I got to present it in front of the CFO of the company only six months into my job, which that was a really cool achievement and just such a cool place to be right six months into a job. So I worked at Xon for first three years and that role and then when Stephan and I got married, his NFL career, at first kind of had to drive. Had to drive where we were going to live, where I was going to move and it and at first it was it was a little frustrating right I had to give up my career at x on because I had to move. We've moved eight times in our marriage for his job. So at first it was there was definitely some humility that I had to had to wrap my mind around where I had to move because of him. But I didn't want my ambitions or my career goals to suffer. So I took some time to figure out what I wanted to do and and given his job and the freedom that it gave me to pursue something that I'm passionate about, I wanted to find something where I could use my talents and my skills and also where there's in need and it's something I'm interested in. So I found a nonprofit. It's called the seed company and they do Bible Translation, so they preserve mother tongue languages around the world. There's two thousand languages in the world that has no Bible translated in their language, not a single verse of Scripture. A lot of people don't know that, but I love that I could come to something I'm passionate about with my faith, and also where I could bring my skill set to the table, so bringing them data analytics, bringing them finance and accounting, health and kind of more of a consultant role and eventually taking on projects and managing projects for them. And also the coolest thing about my job now is that I started an internship program in West Africa. So I have eight to ten interns that I'm training to be financial analysts. So I was able to create a program for them, teach them how to go from being a bookkeeper to being a financial analyst, and most of them have very little computer training, very little accounting training. Such just an amazing to be a part of. You know, I'm I'm helping them to learn how to have a sustainable job and to learn to stand on their own and become an analyst, and that's it gives me such joy to be able to pour into other people and to be in an opportunity where I can do that, even in a time right now where the world has been crazy the past two years, and even in that time I'm teaching them on zoom and they're still able to learn. So it's been a humbling and very reward rewarding job. It might not have been maybe the career path I would have thought I would be going down when I started at Xon, but I wouldn't change it and and I love the opportunity I have now now. I saw that the company that you work for is based in Texas, but you're all back in Pennsylvania now and so you've had a little bit of a chance, before the pandemic started, to experience remote work and a lot of our students are going to start, probably in remote jobs. Can you offer any practical advice for students who might be starting? You know, they graduate, they get job number one and...

...they're on boarding as a remote employee, or perhaps they have a remote internship. How can they adapt to an office, get to know their teammates, their company culture? Over Zoom. Yeah, it was definitely challenging because I started in an environment where everyone was in person except for me, and that was especially challenging. Right now a lot of more people are virtual. The advice I would give in terms of your own work, I think Steffen mentioned this earlier. It's all about prioritizing. Right you're working from home, it's easy to get distracted, but setting goals for yourself. What am I going to get done today? It's really as simple as that, as keeping your priorities and check your deadlines and check in terms of your personal work. Now, in terms of getting to no teammates. I find in today's world, if you're willing to set up a meeting thirty minutes on soon to get to know someone, most people are more than willing to do that and that's what that's what I have to do. You have to be active and pursue it and you have to put in the time. But it goes a long way and just even getting to know someone, just spending thirty minutes and setting up a meeting with someone at the company that maybe the different role than you. Maybe is more experience than you. You can learn a lot just from little bits of time and I think, at least for me, most people are willing to share time, but you have to be actively pursuing it. You have to be willing to put in that time yourself. And then a final question about your your current role. It seems like it's a kind of a cross between a nonprofit and a text start up in its own way. And you were at a massive global company, hundreds of thousands of employees, huge presence, brand name. What was that like switching from that type of environment to the nonprofit tech startup space that you're in? What drew you to that? Definitely a different world, right. So at x on there's a lot of resources available and when you shift to a nonprofit, there's there's some humility in that, right. There's there's not as much resource. You have to be more creative and you're dealing with different skill sets at times and you're working, I'm working cross culturally every day, so there's challenges in it. I think I like the challenge aspect of it, but the analysis to the the analysis skills, I think, stay the same. Right at x on I was creating new things that they had never used before. You knew if you shift, switch industries, the switch the size of your company, that analysis, that finding efficiencies, finding creative, creative ways to do things, doesn't change. So I'm still able to bring that creative mind to create new things and new tools to make processes better. I think that transfer is really well. Now, when I was at x on, you're working at this giant company and then I switch jobs and six months later I'm in West for teaching someone how to use excel. There's good and bad to that right that, but I really enjoy it. I enjoy the graft roots level and I enjoy working at a place where they're using technology and new ways that have never been done before. It really opens up the door to finding creative, new ways to do things and I love that about the company at work for now. Now, Steph and I have a unique question for you in this space now you played on some teams that had heavy rivalries. You were with the raiders and I know there's intense rivalries with the Broncos and the chiefs, who you later went on the play for and you were an eagle, and obviously the whole NFC east or rivals. Those folks who are your competitors could be your teammate down the road. How do you approach that kind of dynamic? That's a really interesting question, to be honest, that I've never been asked that before, so props to you for coming up with a an original question. And then I've been asked a lot of questions in my life. I think the way too, I approach that, in the way in general we approach that is like, you know, when they're you're out of me, they your enemy. I mean you're competing against him, you're trying to win. Probably try not to be too much of a jerk to him. You know, I'm trying hard to to get the job done, but without, you know, hurting anybody or generally being a jerk. But the way that football works is, you know, you could switch teams at any time. The people you're playing against the could switch teams at any time. So basically, whoever's wearing your Jersey at the time is your teammate, is your friend, is your brother and hoovers where in the other jersey, even if maybe you played with them before. There you're out of me for three hours and you can go back to being friends after that. But I mean I've definitely had some guys joined my team that I was like, Oh, I didn't really like that guy, you know, when he was on another team, but you know, once they're on your team, you embrace them, you love them, you support and you work with them. I think you just kind of have to be willing to kind of accept people and be willing to work with whoever gets put next to you. Maybe you didn't like that person in the past when they were your opponent, maybe they played at your rival school, you know, but you got to be able willing to put all any differences aside and work together with anybody, which is one of the things I loved about the NFL is that, I mean they're people from so many different backgrounds, different ethnicities, different socio economic upbringings, and guys from different countries. I mean I played with guys from London and guys from different, different places and it's like it's really cool to see a group of people from such a diverse backgrounds kind of come together and work toward a common goal. And that's the goal to knowing any organization, but it's it's something that was really cool about football to get to meet people from so many different parts of the...

...country, different walks of life and different upbringings and come together to work toward a common goal. I think that's great advice. I know most folks listening are probably not going to play professional football, but I think it's equally good advice for whether it is your professional job, if you get involved in the PTA later, whatever it is you're doing, to take that advice from stuff in there, from the football field to your own life. Now, hilary was telling us about her career transition. Hers was by choice, but you are a professional football player and at some point you know that you have to hang up your coleets. How did you go about developing your post football plan and what do you have down the road as your next step in life? Yeah, absolutely, so you know, like you said, every football player knows that's going to end at some point. So I had been thinking about it for a number of years. You know what I might do with you know, the rest of my life. I mean I'm thirty two and have a lot of time left. And essentially I feel like what I'm trying to do is match up, you know, what I'm good at, you know what I'm gifted at, with what I enjoy doing, what I'm passionate about, and then also trying to think about what's going to serve the world, what's not only gonna maybe help me or my family, but I want to I want to help others, I want to serve, I want to be a blessing to others. So trying to match up those three things is kind of my goal. And you know, personally, I've spent a lot of time during my nfl career kind of teaching the Bible, Leading Bible Studies, preaching to football teams, youth groups, men's groups, church groups, whatever. I enjoy doing that, I think I'm gifted at that and I think that that serves others and as a blessing to others. So I think that's definitely going to be a big part of what I do next, which, you know, call it being a pastor call it Christian ministry, whatever that might be. I don't know exactly kind of how I'm going to fit into that yet. There's a lot of different, you know, ways you can try to serve others in that in that content text. But essentially the next step for me is going to be to go to Grad School. I want to learn and I want to be an effective minister, you know, if that's what I'm going to do the rest of my life. So I want to go to Grad school and I think I'm going to be pursuing they call it a master's of divinity. It's a three year Master's program where you study the Bible, you study it in depth. I'm going to study Hebrew and Greek, you know, the the language is that the old New Testament were written in, so that I can better, you know, analyze study the Bible in their original languages. I'm going to learn kind of how to run a church, how to how to preach, how to teach the Bible, how to counsel others from a Biblical perspective. So it's going to be a lot. I'm excited. I haven't, you know, taken a class since since college, been ten years. So I'm sure I'll be a little rusty, but I'm excited to get back into the academic world and start learning, start reading, start writing papers again. I love hearing that you are focused on how you can help shape the world, which is our tagline here in the Honors College, and continuing the academic excellence. Now we're going to go into the tail end of our conversation here, is just some kind of rapid fire reflective kind of questions and we'll wrap up with our fun one, which, if you're a regular listener, you know it'll be coming at the end. Biggest success to date for both of you, and I think I might know the answer for you, Stephen, but curious nonetheless to hear your perspective. So, Hilary, what was your biggest success so far? Cash? My biggest six US. I would have to say it at x on I develas a tool that allowed five people to change their jobs. I got rid of a department and they were moving on to different jobs, so I created a tool that created a five person efficiency. I thought that was pretty cool. Yeah, and mine big surprise, but you know, win in two super bowls. It's the pinnacle of the NFL profession and I was absolutely to feel blessed to have one one let win to is unbelievable. I had a feeling that might be the one that you would bring up, but I think you both have plenty of success as ahead. On the flip side, though, can you each tell us about a transformational learning moment that you had and what you took out of that? Some faults, my called a mistake, but just something where maybe things didn't go quite your way, and what you pulled out of that experience? Yeah, I think for me, I mean I've had quite a few dro my nfl career, but I think when I got got fired by the eagles just like a year after winning the Super Bowl and I sat kind of without a team for five weeks and how a lot of time to sit and just think about, you know, my career, my life, my decisions, you know, all that kind of stuff, and really felt that, you know, I learned a lot, and I mean I've I've kind of written whole sermons on this, but I'll try to I'll try to keep it short, that ultimately my life is not my own. I'll submit it to God and he can use it as he sees fit. That's kind of what the Christian life should be is that I a longer...

...live, but Christ lives in me. So if my career is not mine, I've given up to God and he can do whatever he wants with it. He can bless it tremendously to super bowls, he can he can kind of end it with, you know, getting fired and as I was sitting there, I'm like I might never play again, might never get signed again. You know, what do I know? But just trying to be okay and rejoice, not just accept, but rejoice and whatever God has for me and his plan is, I think, probably the biggest thing I could take away from that. And I really did have joy in it. I mean Hillary was there with me, she could conside that. I'm I'm telling the truth, but I really did have joy, I really did trust God and essentially my career was falling apart. But if it's not my career, I'm not like holding nick clinging to it. Bible says he who clings to his life will lose it, but he gives it up for Jesus Sake will save it. So I'll try to give my life up to God and I think that's that's how we that's how we save it for me in terms of, you know, learning moment when I started my job at a nonprofit, I created this internship program. So I go to Nigeria for the first time. I spend twenty five hours on a plane, I spend ten hours, I spend ten hours in a bus going to this village and I show up to I'm going to train these people how to be financial analysts. So you go in with these expectations. I'm going to create these tools and we're going to learn coding and I'm going to teach them all this advanced stuff. And I was teaching people how to turn on computers and how to save documents and it was a humbling experience. It was a wonderful experience. At first it you know, it's very different than what you expect, but going into something and loosening your grip on your expectations kind of like what stuff and said. Just loosening your expectations and just seeing how how the learning works and to see these people grow and to shape this program into something where they now are analyst, they now are creating tools and might have took him longer than I thought, it might have looked different, but it was it was a it was a great learning moment for me nonetheless. So the last couple questions. How do you both approach mentorship, both from the mentoring and the Mente perspective? Yeah, I was. I was tremendously blest. I have an a mentor in College who was a pastor, who taught me a lot about how to study the Bible, how to grow my faith. But from a football perspective, I always learned a lot from older players who taught me lots of things when I was a younger player, and so I really benefited from learning, you know, as a younger person, from those who knew more than me. And then as I got along in my nfl career, I started teaching younger guys what I've learned. And same thing with with with the Bible. I teach others the Bible. I've led Bible Studies and in the NFL, and so I've got of gone through the spectrum of, you know, being mentored and then now trying to be a mentor, and I think that's that's the model, but it's not everyone thinks like that. A lot of people we want to receive and we want to receive and we want to receive even first of all, you know, I think anyone should go out and seek getting a mentor, that that's a tremendous benefit. But you know, once you've learned a lot and and grown and achieved at least some level of success, and what is you're doing, just being willing to volunteer your time to then pass on what you've learned others and Vihe ment or. I would challenge people to do that. Just remembering people who helped you and then trying to be a help to others is is really an awesome thing to do. Yeah, I think for me and my first career, you know you it's your first year out of school and your kind of you're used to the school environment and when you start your first job, it's so helpful to have someone who is maybe a few years down the road from you and you see someone who's doing well in their career and you want to career like theirs. I actually approach someone and ask them to mentor me and my first job and I think, and as an encouragement to students, don't be afraid to ask someone, don't be afraid to ask for that kind of relationship, because I think most people are willing to. So I greatly benefited from having a mentor and I think it even prepared me for my job now where I'm running this internship program being able to pour into other people. I think this might be the last kind of deeper question, but how do you both find balance and give back to the community outside of your work commitments? So I can I can go first in terms of, you know, community involvement, although stuff, and then I have had to move so many times with his job, I was able to join I'm I join the Board of a nonprofit that we run a school and an orphanage in Haiti, outside of the capital city. So I've been involved in that organizations for I think ten years now. I'm I serve on their board. So it's been a fun way, though I've moved around the country, we've lived a bunch of different places, I've had a place where I'm able to give back and contribute, and so the organization that I'm involved with we run a school, we run an orphanage, we run medical clinics. We take teams down as people to offer medical care and it's been a it's been a great way for me to pour back into a community, even if it's not my my local community at the time right because I was moving so much. But I think going forward to stuff and I now that we...

...are planning to live in state college or are ready to get back into the local community here and the university and really start getting back to those directly around us. Yeah, I think Hillary answer that pretty well, but I mean I'll just briefly say you know, when I was playing, I always looked for different opportunities to serve wherever I was and really had a lot of awesome experiences doing that. You know, often just showing up and kind of sharing some advice with kids. But I've I've always looked for opportunities to serve and I found a lot through the platform I had in the NFL. Are there any professors, coaches, friends, teammates from Europen state days that either of you would like to give a shout out too? Well, yeah, I you know, there's a million coaches and teammates, so I don't want to pick. I don't want to pick one or two and leave any out, but I'll say shout out to Joe Po man. We unfortunately have kind of stopped talking about him and taking all his records down, but man, awesome guy and an unbelievable coach, unbelievable person. Love Plan for Joe Paul Man. We celebrated the Ten Year University of his four hundred nine win, it goes, last week or two weeks ago, and it was obviously quiet celebration because we're still not talking about Joe Pout too much, unfortunately, but I love a plan for joke on man. Shout out to Joe. For me, honestly, the Front Office and the Honors College was so helpful to me as a freshman and as a sophomore when week took no idea what they're doing, what we're doing, and they helped steer us in the right direction or help when we have no one to turn to. So really, that office is really good at helping new students. I think, least during my time they were and they still are so great. Shout out for my colleagues here in the Honors College and I'm sure there's probably a lot of coaches on that staff with Joe in Turno. Like you said, Stephen, probably too many to name, but I'm sure they all know the impact that they had on you and you had on your fellow players on on those great teams in the late two thousands. Last piece of advice that either of you would like to leave for our current tri or scholars? For me, I think mine's pretty simple. Take every advantage of the opportunities that you have. I think Penn State and the honors college have so many opportunities for four different ways, whether it's funding for research, it's studying abroad, it's taking a leadership roll. I think they're all waiting for you to take them and you just have to be willing to step out, even if it's outside of your comfort zone, try something new, apply for something that you might think is a stretch, because it gave me opportunities that I had never dreamed of. I never thought I'd have funding to go to Africa and study abroad for a year. So I took full advantage of them and I'd encouraged students do the same. I think kind of what I've learned from I've been in successful football organizations and I've been in kind of not successful ones. I think one of the biggest things that makes organizations and then, you know, on down to individual successful is just having a growth mindset that I can always improve. I can always learn, I can always get better, having the humility to admit that. A lot of people, I think it's like a pride thing, like no, I'm good, I'm done, like I'm fine. But I think the most successful organizations and people are always trying to say, how can we do this better? How can we do this better? How can we do this better? Being Open minded to ask others their opinion, learned from everybody. Always be thinking them man, how can I do this differently, more effectively? The teams that I was on that wand that that was their mindset. There wasn't like this house to show up to work, punch my clock get out. It's you know, if we want to be the best, we're going to have to learn and grow and improve and innovate kind of at all times. So I guess I'd be mine. I think that is great advice from both of you. Hillary, I'll let you feel this one. If a scholar wanted to reach out to you and maybe take this conversation a little bit deeper. They're curious on the different careers that you're both in and they wanted to talk to you in a mentoring capacity. How could they get ahold of you? Sure so. I'm on Linkedin. It's easy to reach me there if you're do you want to talk nonprofits? Do you want to talk data analysis? If you want to talk switching career path, if you want to talk football? You might laugh at my answers because I'm not well birthed, but you could try, or at least for a laugh. And then, for those of you who are regular listeners, you know what's coming. Our final question. If you were each a flavor of Burkie creamery ice cream, which would you be? And, as scholar alumni, most importantly, why that flavor? All right, so my favorite flavor was always monster mash. Always made it around Halloween and delicious flavor up. I'm probably going to go buy some right now now that we're talking about it's making me hungry. But why am I Monster Mash? Well, if you look at me in my uniform, I kind of look like a monster. I'm pretty big and scary. I've actually had small children look at me and start crying. You know, I met my niece on the field one time and she lets, she would really went from like smiling and she saw me and just what crying. So I could be described as monster like on the field and I do mask...

...people. It's essentially my job is to mask people for a living, and so I'm monster looking I mask people. However, if you try the flavor monster mash, it's very sweet. So off the field I'm sweet, I'm nice. Might be intimidating looking, but but I'm a nice guy. Oh, I can't talk that. I think for me, I guess it's my favorite flavor too. I really like the girls sticky flavor. Maybe that's just paying homewash to, you know, good girl stickies, but for me, I mean I'm a accountant, I Muss, I'm finance, which can pussing, kind of vanilla, but I travel all over the world for my job. I traveled to some pretty crazy places. So I think it's got like a little bit of just that, you know, the girls stickies in it. So that's my answer. That is a great one and I think you're the first person to pick that one so far. So it's very underrated. You have bothly claimed to your flavors, first time for both of those. So great, Great Pics, Hilary Stephen. Thank you both so much for joining me here today. Despite some technical difficulties here on following the gone lots of great advice on lots of great stories. And again, as an Eagles Fan, thank you, Stephen, on behalf of not only our fan base but also throw a thank you for any chiefs fans listening, as well for delivering the first one in fifty years. So thank you both for joining us today on following the Gong Awesome. Thank you. Thank for having us in. It was my pleasure to win a super bowl for you in the Philly fans. Thank you, scholars, for listening and learning with us today. We hope you will take something with you that will contribute to how you shape the world. This show probably supports the Shure Honors College Emergency Fund Benefiting Scholars experiencing unexpected financial hardship. You can make a difference at rays dot PSU DOT edu, forward slash shreire. Please be sure to hit the relevant subscribe, like or follow button on whichever platform you are engaging with us on today Ay. You can follow the college on Facebook, twitter, instagram and Linkedin to say up to date on news, events and deadlines. If you have questions about the show or a scholar alum who'd like to join us as a guest here on following the gone. Please connect with me at scholar alumni at PSU DOT EDU. Until next time, please stay well and we are.

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