United States

Meet RSM Pursue Your Passion Winner: Kelly A. Hughes


Finance Manager | Davenport, IA

Each year, RSM employees receive an email asking if we have applied to the Pursue Your Passion program and it never seemed to apply to me. This contest appeared to be looking for a difference-maker, someone who will change the world. I am not going to change the world, but I have made a difference – a difference in the lives of my co-workers, family and friends. I have volunteered for charitable organizations, donated time reading to children in elementary schools, provided a temporary home for displaced youth, and built adaptive trikes for individuals with special needs. These are small things in my community, yet they are not large enough to change the world. Then I thought to myself, maybe, just maybe, this year I should begin to think about myself first, and take some time to think about my passion. Where do I begin? Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines passion as “a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object or concept”. My passion is all encompassed in an opportunity offered to travel to Ireland in May 2019. I hope to travel with my son’s college football team, family and friends to watch them play against an Ireland Shamrock Bowl Conference team.

This trip would mean the world to my son and me, and would personally help me fulfill a promise I made to him when he first began playing football in middle school. I promised to do everything in my power to attend every football game when he was on the field. Full disclosure: I did miss one football game due to month-end work duties. (He forgave me much quicker than I forgave myself.) To say I have a strong liking for the game of football is an understatement. Maybe my love of football has everything to do with the fact that I love my son, and that he is able to play football in college. Watching him pursue his dreams and accomplish his goals are more than any mother could ever wish for. Imagine the excitement when the college announced that they would be playing overseas next summer and ultimately put together their Ireland Tour 2019!

The Football Ireland Tour is a nine-day trip that explores Dublin, Clonmacnoise Monastery, Cliffs of Moher, Galway City, Belfast, Trim Castle and Trinity College. I immediately paid the deposit so that my son would be able to play the sport he loves with his teammates and tour Ireland. On another note: my son is the team leprechaun. My children are of Irish heritage and my son is a pale, blue eyed, red head, but on the other hand, he is an offensive lineman who weighs in at over 250 pounds and is 6 foot 4 inches tall. Not your typical leprechaun, but a force to be reckoned with on the football field. Each year as he grew, we celebrated many things Irish. Every St. Patrick’s Day, his room would be disheveled by an imaginary leprechaun, leaving him laughing as we cleaned his room. He enjoys all things Fighting Irish Notre Dame and holds a dream of traveling to Ireland someday.

Even though I have a strong affection for the game of football, my greatest passion would have to be my devotion to my children. This devotion leads this single mom to sacrifice her wants. I ensure that both my twenty-two-year-old daughter, a kindergarten teacher and high school dance coach, and my nineteen-year-old college athlete, who is following my example to study accounting at my alma mater, have everything they need financially and emotionally. As I mentioned earlier, I have paid the deposit and the first installment for my son to travel to Ireland, and the college has a grant that he applied for to assist with the remaining cost of his trip. My daughter has arranged with her employer to be able to buy a plane ticket to fly to Ireland to stay just a couple of days and attend the football game. Everything seems to be in order, oh wait; I should book the trip for myself. Well, my kids always have come first and while paying college tuition, we have been cutting expenses to save money. However, if the dishwasher breaks, no big deal, we can hand-wash dishes until after May. Honestly, maybe my frugal ways with money have only a little to do with my hesitation; maybe it is the fear of traveling abroad. I have taken vacations, I have flown, but I have never traveled abroad. Even though this trip would be with a tour group, I would be essentially traveling alone. Maybe this trip could also be the first step to exploring the world almost on my own, since I will soon be an “empty nester”.

The more that I think and write about pursuing my passion, it becomes clear to me: I devote myself to my work, my family and friends. In most circumstances, I would help others before taking care of myself.  I work hard and maybe now it’s time for me to play hard and reward myself by trying something new, immersing myself in a different culture, exploring faraway worlds and beaming with pride watching my son play the game he loves. This trip will most definitely help me Pursue MY Passion and make a lasting impression on my family and me.