Spring 2010 TRINITY Magazine, Career and Calling
Chris Yonkman ’97
Major: History and philosophy
Title: International trade specialist
Chris Yonkman ’97 first became interested in working for the federal government while attending Trinity. Yonkman, a history and philosophy major met with history professor Dr. Bob Rice to seek advice about possible career paths. The professor suggested work with the federal government.
Yonkman said that conversation, as well as reading an alumni update from Aaron Tambrini ’97 (who was then working for the Immigration and Naturalization Service) laid the groundwork for his eventual career with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). “I believe God was working through these experiences and calling me to service in the federal government,” he said.
Yonkman received a master’s degree in history from Purdue University, and today he is an international trade specialist with CBP, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. In this position, he is responsible for targeting of imported shipments and analysis of import data in order to protect the American consumer and the economy against illicit trade practices.
His job further entails analyzing import trends, targeting high risk shipments, and prescribing the appropriate action to ensure that the proper duties are collected, that imported merchandise is properly appraised, and that all statutory and regulatory requirements have been met.
For students who may be interested in federal employment, Yonkman advises being persistent with the job application process and notes that it is a profession “somewhat immune” to the effects of a faltering economy.
“The job security associated with federal employment is truly one of its greatest benefits,” said Yonkman. “Unfortunately, some people perceive government workers as having a charmed life when it comes to their work environment. I think it’s important for Christians working in government to help dispel that perception by setting a good example through diligence and hard work.”
Spring 2010 TRINITY Magazine, Career and Calling
Aaron Tambrini ’97
Title: Special agent
Aaron Tambrini ’97 is a special agent for the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), part of the U.S. Department of State.
His work experience reads something like a character sketch of the protagonist in a political thriller. He has conducted criminal investigations into passport fraud, visa fraud, and terrorism; protected dignitaries, including the Secretary of State, the Dalai Lama, and various foreign ministers; and conducted embassy security management overseas.
This job requires intense training and the necessity of his family to move every few years and live everywhere from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Tunis, Tunisia. These were the locales of two of Tambrini’s assignments: liaison officer to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and assistant regional security officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tunis.
Currently, Tambrini is in Arlington, Virginia, learning French in preparation for his next assignment as a regional security officer in Mauritania (western Africa), where he will move with his family to the capital city of Nouakchott and manage the Embassy’s security program as he did in Tunis.
Tambrini said that although he doesn’t recall a specific moment when he “woke up knowing” he was called to work in federal law enforcement, the former history major was interested in working as a special agent for the U.S. Secret Service and was first hired by Immigration to work at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. There he learned that his interest in passport and visa fraud would be a good match for the DSS’s main investigative function of protecting the integrity of the U.S. passport.
For students considering a similar field, Tambrini suggests taking advantage of the opportunities Trinity provides to gain hands-on experience through an internship and to be immersed in another culture through study abroad programs such as the Semester in Spain.
Fall 2010 TRINITY Magazine, Career and Calling: Called to Lead
Lara DeVries ’08
Title: LLI founder and executive director
From a distance, the faded yellow, green, and blue shanties stand out against the base of the rocky hills like shell fragments in the sand. A perpetual ceiling of dust blocks the sun and coats the feet of the children as they trek to their art class. There they will leave the gray landscape outside and dip brushes into bright red and purple to paint hearts, flowers, and the word PAZ—peace—on some of the rocks that form the terrain of Huaycan, Peru.
This is a wonderful opportunity for the children, most of whom, like their parents, will not attend school past the age of 16 and have little hope of rising above the poverty that surrounds them like the dusty hills.
During her time at Trinity, Lara DeVries ’08 completed an internship in Lima, Peru, studying Peruvian history in relation to community development and involvement. She expected her four months of study abroad to provide an experiential learning opportunity but not for it to provide the means by which God would call her to change lives.
Just one year after graduating from Trinity, DeVries, with a bachelor’s degree in history and four months of experience, co-founded the Light and Leadership Initiative, a non-profit organization offering education programs to women and children who are struggling to survive let alone be educated.
“Within the space of one year, I saw how God changed the course of my life drastically,” said DeVries, who serves as executive director of the organization. “My relationship with God transformed into one where serving God by helping others was my sole purpose in life.”
Taught by volunteers from around the world, Light and Leadership’s programs reinforce what the schools are teaching in Huaycan, whose 180,000 inhabitants nearly all live below the poverty line. Today the organization serves over 150 participants with classes for children in English, art, physical education, French, and dance. Local women take part in Spanish literacy, health, and trade workshops.
“Education makes a promise to the community that soon it will no longer have to live in extreme poverty,” said DeVries. “Everything about our program, from our goals to our volunteers, promotes education as a form of leadership to change the community.”