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Drew Theological School Student Carmen O’Shea T’23 Left the Corporate World to Follow her Calling

“The path I forged for so many years was no longer the right path for my future.” 

June 2022 – Carmen O’Shea T’23 worked in corporate finance and accounting for over 20 years. But something was missing. She felt a pull to fulfill her need to do more.

These thoughts were solidified during the pandemic. It was time for O’Shea to answer her calling.

Enter Drew Theological School. O’Shea enrolled as a Master of Divinity student at Drew and found herself switching careers to become the director of the Plateau Camp and Retreat Center in the Pocono Mountains.

Read on to learn more about O’Shea’s vocational journey.

Can you describe your vocational journey, shifting from an insurance executive to director of the Pocono Plateau Camp and Retreat Center?
I worked in the corporate finance and accounting arena for over 20 years. While it was incredibly challenging and I developed valuable skills in communication and leadership, I still felt a pull towards something with a greater purpose. I found myself finding fulfillment through leading girl scouts and youth group and being active in community service, church leadership, and mission trips. Amidst the 2020 pandemic, I found time to slow down the pace of my career as vice president of finance for the largest property and insurance company globally. I stopped traveling on international trips and commuting daily into Philadelphia. I found time to reflect, meditate, and pray. Through this gift of time, I felt assurance within me that the path I forged for so many years was no longer the right path for my future. I listened carefully and recognized God’s calling through that assurance. Doing good in the world and being a Christian disciple was not something I wanted placed ‘on the sidelines’ of my career any longer.

Unsure of my next steps, I applied to Drew and decided to discern this call while in seminary. Last year, I became a candidate for elder in the United Methodist Church and am still continuing on this path. But along the way, I stumbled upon a job opening for the Pocono Plateau Camp and Retreat Center in the Pocono Mountains. I had been to this camp as a retreat guest a few years back and loved the sacred space. I spent many weeks as a camper myself as a child in various camps in Maryland and also led several family and youth retreats and girl scout trips during my adult years. I decided to apply without any formal experience, knowing I had a heart and passion for this type of ministry. I accepted the role and began in January 2022. I am blessed to have a strong background in finance, business, and leadership to guide me in this transition. I am also blessed to have a big community of supporters of this camp that have welcomed me and accepted the changes needed to make the center sustainable into a post pandemic future.  

How is Drew Theological School preparing you for this next chapter?
Drew has opened my eyes to a community of people and a context of faith and education far broader than I anticipated. I just finished my second semester and feel I have grown already in my understanding of biblical interpretation, other faith traditions, creation stewardship, and diversity within a religious group. I also loved that Drew’s community extended beyond the greater New Jersey area. Being a mostly online student, I appreciate learning from students from other cultures.

What brought you to Drew?
As a United Methodist growing up in the Northeast, I knew Drew had a strong theology program. I know several pastors and mentors that graduated from Drew, all with deep conviction for the love of God open to all. I support Drew’s progressive teachings and am proud to be part of a community of believers that advocate for justice and inclusion.

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