Thinking well on her feet is one of Courtney Durham’s many strengths. Add to that her ability to speak articulately, which came in handy when she recently—and unexpectedly—worked a 10-minute shift with President Barack Obama at Martha’s Table, a Washington, D.C., shelter, on Columbus Day. They were station partners, preparing food for the day’s meals.
“I had plenty of time to talk about OWU and the Travel-Learning courses I took,” says the 2012 graduate and double major in international studies and Spanish. Durham also pointed out OWU’s multi-year President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll award and large number of volunteer hours logged by students each year.
“The President was responsive and interested to know that I and so many other OWU students value [community] service so highly.”
Working for a while at Worldreader, a global nonprofit organization whose mission is to eradicate illiteracy among the world’s poorest people, Durham also wanted to volunteer closer to home at Martha’s Table. She now works full time as Manager of Federal Affairs at McAllister & Quinn, a comprehensive consulting firm serving a diverse clientele with issues before the federal government. Her grandfather was a lobbyist, and Durham sees that skill and career path in her future.
“I’m a people person and like the thought of facing a congressional representative with an issue I believe in,” she says. And Washington is all about lobbying, networking, and relationship building.
Durham hopes to attend graduate school and pursue a career in international service, a pathway made possible, she says, “because of the spirit of volunteerism founded in me during my four years at Ohio Wesleyan.”