This summer, we’re following the class of 2017: Calvin graduates who are journeying around the corner and across the globe. Ana Barahona Reyes is now working in Texas as an accounting staff auditor for Ernst & Young (EY), thanks to the encouragement of Calvin professors throughout her time as a student here.
- Name: Ana Barahona Reyes
- Class: 2017
- Hometown: Tegucigalpa, Honduras
- Major(s): Public Accounting with Honors
- Minor(s): Economics
- Next step: Accounting staff auditor at Ernst and Young
What’s one thing you would want to tell someone starting his or her journey at Calvin?
I cannot stress this enough: push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Whether it’s through an internship across the country, a job you aren’t thrilled about, a study-abroad program where you do not speak the language, or going to a church in a denomination that’s different from what you grew up in, be sure to befriend people who are different than you. Learn to deal with the discomfort and embrace what’s different. You’ll be surprised by the growth you’ll experience through what you discover.
What about Calvin specifically prepared you for this next step in your journey?
I think I’ll never tire of saying this, but I’ve never worked as hard in my life as I did when school was in session at Calvin. I am taking with me a very strong work ethic, but also a better awareness of the importance of proper rest.
What’s one thing that surprised you about Calvin?
One of the most surprising experiences I had at Calvin was finishing my freshman year and realizing how difficult it had been to form deep friendships with my local peers. During my time at Calvin, I’ve had the fortune of being welcomed in by families both in Grand Rapids and in Houston who have helped me to navigate the culture shock I’ve experienced as an international student in a rather monochrome world of college-educated professionals in the United States. Although the differences have become smoother over the years and I’ve come to find many common interests upon which to build strong relationships with “locals,” I still am and hope to always be aware of my reality as a minority in this country. The lesson I learned as a freshman remains relevant today as I enter the workforce. In a world where I will most likely always be a minority of some sort—whether a Christian, a woman, or simply a person who looks different from the rest of the people at the table—I hope to not only be aware of my reality and that of other minorities, but to have the courage to take steps to change it.
How has your faith grown at Calvin?
I think I am more comfortable with doubts and questions now. I’m still learning to deal with the lack of black-and-white in the world and to handle myself in the vastness of the gray, especially when it comes to matters of faith. I have had both “spiritual highs” and moments of long, bitter questioning in my walk of faith. Through these, I’ve come to realize that faith in Jesus Christ is neither easy nor flat, and that that is okay. Although it’s a work in process, I am much more at ease with not having a black or white answer and have learned to be vulnerable and give voice to my questions—even the uncomfortable ones.