It was Summer 2009, my very first summer in Charleston. The weather was getting torrid and summer activities were in full swing. Summers in Charleston were absolutely my favorite. It was like God hand-picked everything I loved and put them all in one place. Everyday was an adventure. Saturday mornings were spent at the farmer’s market at Marion Square Park a few blocks from my house. The farmer’s market was an event that was held every Saturday morning as an opportunity for local farmers to sell their fresh produce. The best part of the farmer’s market was purchasing food sold by a variety of food vendors and then sitting down in the park and enjoying live band performances. Saturday afternoons were spent taking long walks with friends at Folly beach or Isle of Palms beach, or cozying up in my room reading one of Karen Kingsbury’s Christian novels. Some evenings were spent watching movies under the stars until mosquitoes started invading my space, or attending outdoor events like jazz on the pier, salsa on the pier, and reggae concerts. My favorite reggae concert was part of the Spoleto festival. Spoleto festival is an annual music and arts festival that brings artists from all over the United States like Broadway performers, comedians, singers, actors and actresses, and top names in the fashion industry to Charleston. I remember in Summer 2009, this male Broadway singer from New York rented a space in the same house where I lived for a month during the Spoleto festival as he was part of several Broadway shows in Charleston. Every morning, he would wake up bright and early and sit in his room or in the balcony and warm his voice, or practice for his show. He had a sweet operatic voice. I felt like I had a front-row seat to his concert everyday. I would clap softly in my room after each performance. “Bravo!!”, “Bravo!!” I would say while applauding and would hope he didn’t hear me across the hallway. He sang so beautifully that sometimes a teardrop would escape from my eyes, especially when he sang Ave Maria. He had such a high range and would sing at a high pitch and I would worry that his voice would cause the windows to shatter just like in the movies. I was always curious what the neighbours thought about our new super-talented friend. Summer 2009 in Charleston felt just like heaven. I enjoyed every bit of it!

At work (Institutional Research Office), I spent the entire summer learning something new and exciting. The college was in the process of moving away from a centralized data reporting structure where most reports came from our office, to a more decentralized data reporting structure where most non-teaching staff offices would be responsible for producing their own operational reports in a data reporting tool called Cognos. During the summer, most staff were in all-day Cognos training while I held the fort at the office. One day, my boss came by my desk after his training and dropped a huge Cognos training binder on my desk and told me, “I think you should learn this, it will be useful in future.” I started learning Cognos like my life depended on it. I used my programming knowledge from graduate school to write code within Cognos to perform complex statistical analysis. With time, I became really good with Cognos and would occasionally do a little demo for my boss to share how much I was getting proficient with Cognos. He was impressed with how fast I learned it. As a result, I was invited by my boss to join the school’s reporting team committee responsible for making decisions primarily regarding transitioning to the new reporting tool. I started networking with top executives in other administrative offices who were part of the committee. Later that year in the Fall semester, I got a Graduate Assistantship job with the Graduate Admissions Office and was initially responsible for helping in organizing graduate application materials and answering phones. I was still working part-time at the office of Institutional Research Office. One day, my boss from Institutional Research went over to the Graduate Admissions Office and told them how good I was with Cognos and that instead of making me answer phone calls, they should make me their Reporting Analyst. The Graduate Office loved the idea and moved me from the front desk to my own desk and made me their Reporting Analyst responsible for creating their operational reports in Cognos.

Once again, God ordered my steps so strategically in a way I never envisioned. God used my Cognos experience to open doors for me at College of Charleston in a mind-blowing way. I thank God for using my boss as my destiny helper in those days. I pray that God will cause your destiny helpers to locate you and grant you favor before them. May the Lord equip you so that you will be ready for the opportunities and open doors He has prepared for you. The best is yet to come! Watch out for the next blog post. The story gets even better!!

To be continued…