September 21, 2021
Alumna Jennifer Aikman took the time to discover what she was passionate about while at Shawnee State University. Involved with the Women’s Soccer, Women’s Tennis, and Women’s Basketball teams throughout her time on campus, Aikman was also a Resident Assistant, a tutor in the Student Success Center, helped with tours in the Office of Admissions, and studied abroad the last semester she was in college. While being involved across campus was easy for Aikman, choosing her major took some time to develop, but her choice ended up being the right fit for her.
“I consider myself a passionate person, but I don’t have one singular passion,” she said. “So I decided to just go into business and figure it out by taking all kinds of courses. I added a concentration in accounting in my junior year. I love math, and math and accounting are not the same so I was afraid at first that I wouldn’t like it. After my first accounting class, it was like it was a second language to me. I loved it because it was more of an art than a science to me.”
After graduating in 2005, Aikman started her career working as an auditor for the state of Ohio before changing career paths and pursuing a career in the financial services industry as a financial advisor. A year later she started as a licensed personal banker and has been in some form of banking ever since.
“I’m a commercial banker. I help businesses with obtaining financing for acquiring a new business, or acquiring real estate, different FBA questions, etc.,” she said. “I basically assist business owners and entrepreneurs with financing. I love what I do, and I get to have passion for it. My clients are such passionate people to work with, and I get up every day excited to go to work. It’s amazing.”
Once the COVID-19 pandemic began, Aikman’s assistance with businesses took a turn as she began helping small businesses obtain federal money to assist in their operations through Paycheck Protection Program loans (PPP).
“It was really empowering because at first in my career I came from the other side of that business where I was auditing government entities and misappropriation of funds, and now this stuff was directly made to feed my next-door neighbors,” she said. “I cannot say enough about PPP. Personally, I did sixty-nine loans for $9 million in PPP money, and I’m very proud to say that 100% of my customers that asked for PPP money received funds.”
A proud alumna of her alma mater, Aikman encourages other students to step out of their comfort zone by pursuing an internship or getting involved on campus. She hopes to inspire others to begin their future at SSU where she found the ability to be herself and enjoy the time furthering her education.
“What I encourage every student to do, regardless of where you are, is to not be your own barrier,” she said. “I think you can have a great experience anywhere, but what’s unique and interesting about Shawnee is that it’s a state-of-the-art university that’s kind of secluded, so you can grow and gain unique opportunities while being authentic to who you are. Be your own person, be present, and you’ll thrive.”
This spotlight is part of an ongoing series by the SSU Alumni Association in celebration of the university’s 35 Years milestone. To learn more about alumni making a difference in their careers, visit shawneestatealumni.com for more features.