Echols taking business education into the workforce

PLAINVIEW – When Jessica Echols enrolled at Wayland Baptist University in August 2012, she wanted to run track. Her cousin, Kydia Echols, was a member of the Pioneer track team and helped set Jessica up. Unfortunately, torn tendons and three ankle surgeries sidelined the young runner.

With competition out of the question, Echols sprinted toward another finish line – graduation. On Saturday, she will receive her diploma, completing her Bachelor of Business Administration degree and participating in Commencement ceremonies at 2 p.m. in Wayland’s Harral Memorial Auditorium. Currently, 82 students are scheduled to participate in graduation. Echols will also give the student response during the graduation luncheon earlier in the day.

Echols, from Diana, Texas, specialized in economics and finance, completing her degree in three and a half years.

“I’m a little early,” Echols said about graduating. “It felt like it was taking a long time, but now that I look back, it went really fast.”

Don’t let her East Texas accent full you; going fast is nothing new to Echols. As a freshman she was an All-American in the 400-meter hurdles, placing fourth at the 2013 NAIA Outdoor National Championships.

“After my freshman year, I found out that I had torn tendons,” said Echols who underwent three surgeries in an attempt to get back on the track. “I would try to get back going and would end up hurting myself again. It just never worked out.”

Her academic pursuits did work out, however, as she got involved with ENACTUS, Wayland’s business students organization. As president of ENACTUS in 2014, she played a role in developing the jewelry program that benefits business women in Kenya while raising funds for the organization. Through the School of Business, ENACTUS purchases handmade jewelry from Kenyan women, then sell it here as a fundraiser. It’s a program that has been beneficial to the women in Kenya as well as Wayland students.

Echols’ involvement included a trip to Kenya where she was among a group of students offering entrepreneurial training to prospective business men and women. The group taught the basics of marketing, finance and accounting.

With a specialization in finance and accounting, Echols said she really enjoyed being on the teaching side of the classroom, helping others to grow their businesses.

“We got to teach someone else what we learned in class,” Echols said. “That is the part I really like. I’m using what my professors have taught me to teach someone else and help someone else’s life become better.”

Echols will celebrate graduation with family and friends by her side, then it’s off to the workforce. She hopes to find a job in financial analysis or something similar, then eventually return to school to earn a master’s degree in finance.

“I like numbers,” she said.