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Securing America’s Future:

The Power of Liberal Arts Education

Charise Flynn

Chief Operations Officer, Dwolla
Simpson College (IA), Class of 2004
As chief operations officer, Charise Flynn oversees the business development, sales, marketing, human resources, legal, compliance, risk, customer support, and finance operations for Dwolla, an online and mobile payment network.

Since joining the team in early 2011, Flynn has played an instrumental role in guiding Dwolla’s impressive growth, raising over $30 million in tier-one venture capital and overseeing the Des Moines-based company’s expansion to San Francisco and New York City.
Life is full of choices. Choosing a college or university, deciding a major, changing a major, traveling abroad, volunteering, putting in the extra time, joining a fraternity or sorority, choosing what to do after graduation…These are not always easy decisions to make at the ages of 17-22.
 
Making a choice to attend Simpson College and pursue a liberal arts education prepared me for life, both personally and professionally, and I am grateful for my Simpson College experience. The liberal arts education offered me a broad curriculum and diverse experiences, and it allowed me to grow within Simpson’s supportive environment. Changing my major to philosophy helped me realize that I loved learning, a passion that has followed me throughout my life.
 

I never dreamt that I would be where I am today as the COO of a payments company, but I genuinely believe that my liberal arts education set me up for success by encouraging me to question the world around me and showing me that I could make a difference.

 
Although it was a risk at the time to change my major to a double degree in philosophy and religion, making this choice was one of the best risks I have taken in my life. It taught me how to examine the big picture, think critically, and communicate effectively. 
 
When I was attending Simpson College, I never dreamt that I would be where I am today as the COO of a payments company, but I genuinely believe that my liberal arts education set me up for success by encouraging me to question the world around me and showing me that I could make a difference.
 
Now that I am an employer, I look for people who are well-rounded, eager to learn, and entrepreneurial at heart. A liberal arts education can contribute to those qualities I look for in employees because it teaches students to be flexible and to adapt to their surroundings. It opens their minds to the world and possibilities around them.
 
The word liberal in Latin means “worthy of a free man,” and my liberal arts education has given me the freedom and confidence I need to succeed in an ever changing world.
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