Fountain Springs, AZ
This month’s alumni profile features Isabelle Clausen, who grew up in Fountain Hills, Arizona, and competed with Mars Hill from 2014 to 2017. She graduated from Grand Canyon University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Economics with a minor in Entrepreneurial Studies.
Isabelle was “accidentally homeschooled.” She explained, “When I was four years old, my family and I lived in Idaho, and we lived out in the country, about thirty minutes from school. Instead of traveling far to go to school each day, my mom and dad thought they could teach my brother and I shapes, colors, etc. The next year, when it came to reading and math, my dad asked my mom, ‘Well, we can probably teach them letters and numbers too, right?’ After that, the rest was history. I was homeschooled from preschool through 12th grade!”
Her introduction to Stoa was through a speech and debate class taught at her co-op. She loved it and joined Mars Hill in her sophomore year. Isabelle says she was nervous to step out of her comfort zone but the experience taught her that God is looking out for her and will give her courage and strength when she starts new experiences. Furthermore, because she was able to step out of her comfort zone in high school, she now has more courage in other parts of her life, such as starting her career and living on her own.
As Isabelle gained more Stoa experience, the surrounding sense of community profoundly impacted her. She remembers making speech and debate jokes around a table, winning her first checkmark at the same time as a friend, and practicing swing dancing on the grass while discussing debate applications at NITOC. The community that Isabelle found in Stoa was exactly what she needed to build her confidence and create lifelong friendships. Because of this experience, she reminds herself often that in the new chapters of life, God will bless us more than we can fathom if we trust Him and ask for His help.
Isabelle is currently studying to become a financial advisor and eventually a Certified Financial Planner. She is partnering with her dad in the family investment business and hoping to take over the business in the next 10 years when her dad retires. The business has an office in Idaho and opened a second office in Arizona this October.
Stoa profoundly blessed her in her career endeavors. As she explained: “In speech and debate, you learn how to explain complex topics to people in a way that makes sense and is simple to understand. Finance is very complex and can be intimidating to most people. Speech and debate taught me skills on how I can articulate facts and statistics in a compelling and simplified way.” Isabelle also pointed out that speech and debate teaches you how to empathize with your audience and build a personal connection. She has carried this forward in her finance career, finding common ground with her clients by sharing personal stories and life lessons.
Finally, she encouraged Stoa alumni to find the balance between spending time with Christian friends and branching out to engage others. “Young adults need the love of Jesus. As young Christians, it’s our job to help other young adults find the love of Jesus. As we step out into the world and meet new people, one of the best ways to evangelize is by sharing kindness and love with others. This can be as simple as listening to someone’s struggles, inviting someone over to dinner, or inviting someone to church. As John 13:34-35 states, ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another’.”