Following her passion, young Spring Hill College alum finds success in a new career in a new state

Decision to change careers? Check. Cross-country move? Check, Check. New fulfilling career? Check, check, check. Madeleine Ackels has been unafraid to take risks in the four years since she graduated from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. Those risks have led her to a successful career in a city she loves.

The Dallas native graduated from Spring Hill College in 2016 with a degree in elementary education and enjoyed teaching, but it never felt like the right fit, she said.

“I realized that I didn’t have the passion for it that I wanted to have for my career,” Ackels said. “I knew that if I didn’t love it, then I wouldn’t put in the right amount of effort and ultimately that wouldn’t be fair to the students.”

After a year of teaching, Ackels moved to Utah and, fascinated by the landscape, decided to move there and accepted an offer from Goldman Sachs in Salt Lake City to recruit university students for internships and jobs. 

“I knew I loved recruiting immediately,” she said. “It was people-focused but working with adults instead of children. I had the opportunity to continue working with students but in this new capacity.”

Ackels is now a corporate recruiter for Qualtrics, a technology company headquartered in Provo, Utah, and Seattle, Washington, that employs about 3,700 people.

“I am responsible for sourcing, interviewing and hiring candidates to meet business needs and hit company growth targets,” she said.

Ackels credits her time at Spring Hill College for teaching her to love and care for all people. She sees her human resources role as a service opportunity.

“I work in service to the teams I hire for, to help them find that perfect new employee, in service to the candidates I work with, to help them land their dream jobs and in service to my company, to help it to grow year over year into something really special.”

Spring Hill emphasizes service as part of the Jesuit tradition of “cura personalis,” or care for the whole person. Faculty and staff at the Jesuit, Catholic college care for the entire student – mind, body and spirit. This includes service-learning courses designed to teach students to serve others and learn about community needs.

In September, the College announced a tuition reduction, cutting tuition and fees by nearly 50 percent to make a Jesuit, liberal arts education possible for more students across the country.

Another Jesuit concept driving Ackels is “magis,” Latin for striving for more, related to the Latin phrase meaning “for the greater glory of God.”

After graduating from high school, she considered herself a “smart kid, ” but Ackels soon learned that smart kids from around the country also attended Spring Hill. Adopting “magis,” she pushed herself to earn the good grades she was accustomed to, and to set herself apart.

“This value continues to push me in my professional life,” Ackels said. “I do more to earn trust and respect in the workplace, more to help others and more to build my personal brand.”

Her advice to Spring Hill College students is not to silo themselves into a career based on their degree.

“Although I don’t use my education degree in my day-to-day work right now, I know the experience I had at Spring Hill College in the education program set me up for success where I am now,” Ackels said.

“The cool thing about life is that we get to call the shots. Obviously, there are a lot of factors to consider,” she said. “But at the end of the day, we have so much power to do the things that make us happy.”

This article is part of the “Real World Ready” series about outstanding Spring Hill College students, alumni, faculty and administrators. rwr.shc.ed

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