Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Accounting, Class of 2011
Not many students can take 70 credits in 16 months and with the potential to graduate with a 4.O GPA, let alone while serving as a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army. But Christopher Shovlin, who will graduate this May with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Saint Joseph’s University’s College of Professional and Liberal Studies, has truly blazed his own trail. “I’m one of the crazy ones,” he says, describing his rationale for taking accelerated CPA (Certified Public Accountant) courses this summer and pursuing an MBA in the fall.
“I enrolled in the Army in 1999, out of high school,” said Shovlin. “My parents never came from money so if I couldn’t get a full scholarship I couldn’t go to college – it was originally a chance to get money to get my degree.”
Two years later on September 11, the world changed and so did his life. “I have been deployed overseas part of every year since then except in 2007,” he says. Kosovo and Iraq are just two of the locations where Shovlin has spent a majority of the past decade.
While deployed in Iraq, the G.I. bill was rewritten, giving him the opportunity to go back to school. A self-described “numbers guy,” Shovlin chose Saint Joseph’s because of its accounting program and the ability to stay in Philadelphia, his hometown.
“My civilian job was gone after 60 years of business, so I didn’t have much of a choice but to go back to school,” he recounts. Shovlin’s last civilian job was as a car salesman with Stockburger-Chevrolet before the recession forced the dealership to close its doors. “What happened in the industry was a wake-up call to go back to school. For long-term stability, I needed to finish my degree.”
Shovlin married in 2007, and his family provided added motivation to start a new career. “I only have two months left in my contract with the army, and at this point in my life, it’s about going forward.” He will start a new career as an auditor with one of the big four accounting firms, Ernst & Young, in the fall. “The thing about accounting is that you can progress, and you have job options – this economy is rough and I know a lot of people who have been hurt by it.”
But Shovlin has persevered. People are amazed by his ability to maintain a work/life/school balance and still excel, but Shovlin explains that it all comes down to confidence. “I’m not smarter than anybody else, but I put in the time and the work and I know what I can do. A lot of the younger people are capable of the same, but they just don’t know it yet.” Shovlin’s journey is proof that once you believe in yourself, the sky truly is the limit – there’s nothing crazy about that.