IMPACT Stories

This Month's Featured IMPACT Story

Sharing the stories of Saint Xavier University students, alumni, faculty/staff and friends.

Sean hickey

Sean Hickey

From Inspiration to Engagement

For Sean Hickey, career inspiration came from his family.  “Two of my uncles were priests and another uncle was an accountant,” he said.  After graduating high school, Sean began his studies to become a priest at Niles College.  Two years into the program, he realized religious life was not his calling.  Soon after he left the seminary, he crossed paths with some former high school soccer teammates.  They told him about the new men’s soccer team at Saint Xavier and encouraged him to join the team, too.  That chance meeting, combined with Saint Xavier’s faith-based curriculum and small class sizes, was what attracted Sean to the University. 

Sean wanted to change his major to accounting upon enrolling at Saint Xavier so he could follow in the footsteps of his other uncle, but with two years of college credit toward a philosophy degree, “my parents just wanted me to finish.”  Sean graduated from Saint Xavier with his bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1993.

How does one go from a philosophy degree to an accounting career?  Before he graduated from Saint Xavier, Sean met with the staff in the Career Services office.  They helped him map out a plan to achieve his goal.  It involved taking accounting classes at Governors State University at night, while working at a bank during the day.  Eventually, Sean earned enough credits to sit for the CPA exam.  Once he passed, he was able to advance his career plan.  He worked for a couple large public and small accounting firms, and then joined McGladrey, a leading provider of assurance, tax and consulting services focused on the middle market, eight years ago.

Sean credits his success to the liberal arts education he received at Saint Xavier and the critical thinking skills he developed.  “Some of the business classes I took focused solely on teaching facts or processes.  Except, the majority of business decisions are made by analyzing facts and figures to determine their meaning.  Throughout my career, I have been able to draw on the critical thinking skills I developed as a philosophy student to better advocate for my clients,” said Sean.

When thinking back to his SXU days, Sean still remembers sociology classes with Vivian Tellis-Nayak, Ph.D. because of the interactive projects he assigned.  It was also helpful that Dr. Tellis-Nayak made a point of relating the course topics to the students’ everyday lives.

In 2008, another chance meeting with a Saint Xavier alumnus changed the course of Sean’s connection with the University.  “Through a professional client relationship, I met Jose Garcia ’91.  Jose was a member of the National Alumni Board at the time and encouraged me to get involved.  The time was right in my life to do something more to give back, so I joined the board.  The rest, as they say, is history,” Sean recalled.

Sean currently serves as the President of the National Alumni Board.  In this role, he has three clear goals:

  1.  Make SXU alumni aware of the variety of social, educational and service activities available to them,
  2. Open the door to welcome alumni back to campus – whether they are coming from across the street or around the globe, and
  3. Encourage alumni to give back to the Saint Xavier community by supporting the Saint Xavier Fund or any of the numerous restricted or endowed funds.

“The key to continued growth for the University is fully engaged alumni.  That’s what we’re trying to do through the National Alumni Board.  There are so many ways for alumni to be involved and contribute to the vitality of the University community.  I am proud to be a Saint Xavier alumnus.” he said.

More than twenty years ago, when Sean set out to find an institution at which to continue his education after leaving the seminary, he wanted a university where he wouldn’t be a number.  Sean found that and more at Saint Xavier University.  He found a home. 

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