Elizabeth Sweet ’14 loves her work and wants to make a difference in the world. She enjoys the extensive travel associated with her position as the Executive Assistant to the Co-Founder of the Starkey Hearing Foundation. Founded in 1984, Starkey Hearing Foundation has expanded from its base in Minnesota across the U.S. and around the world. Helping economically disadvantaged people, Sweet is privileged to be part of the process of giving them the gift of hearing. She has traveled to South Africa, Portugal, Canada, Columbia, Peru, Indonesia, Mexico, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Botswana, Kenya, and in the last month, Brazil, El Salvador, Palestine and Jerusalem with the Starkey Hearing Foundation to help provide basic hearing healthcare and hearing aids, along with tools and training “so the world may hear.”
Sweet first came to Graceland as a junior in 2010, having never been to Iowa before. She transferred from Eastern Arizona College. Sweet heard about Graceland through her basketball coach and made the decision to transfer, in part, to continue playing the sport she loved. She admits after her first Amish buggy sighting, she questioned her commitment to Graceland.
Coming to a new state, with a completely different atmosphere and not knowing anyone, Sweet worried she had perhaps made a mistake in choosing Graceland. All of her doubts subsided, however, when she walked into her residence hall. Sweet was placed in Solah House, where she bonded with other women, becoming very good friends.
“My housemates really made my experience great. I know that is common for everyone at Graceland – it truly is a community.”
Following her junior year, Sweet took two years off to go on a mission for her church. Upon returning to Graceland, she found most of her friends had graduated. Feeling as if she was starting the process over again, Sweet’s Solah sisters were just as amazing the second time around, and her basketball coach welcomed her back on the team.
In 2014, Sweet graduated with a double major in business administration and economics and a minor in Spanish. She confessed she almost abandoned her major after hearing of the difficulty level of the senior economics class. She credits her math and economics teachers for pushing her and helping her to graduate.
“I had to stay up late for projects, and I really learned the work of persistence,” Sweet shares. In addition to many great opportunities Graceland afforded her, Sweet completed an internship with Ken and Cindy McClain in Kansas City, Missouri.
“I got to do a lot of hands-on and real-life work, which was so unexpected coming from a small-town Iowa college. I felt very prepared for finding a job and being successful post-college.”
When Sweet is not traveling the world for her job, she spends time at home in Minnesota. She shared that much of what she learned on how to love others came from her time at Graceland and is appreciative of everything the university has brought to her life.
“The people who have come into my life – from teachers, church, family, students, Solah sisters, teammates, career network, jobs and friends – have been too many to count, but I am so grateful for all of them. It’s funny to see where life takes us, and I’m just getting started!”