For Genevieve Finn, the worst part of being on crutches for the better part of two years in high school wasn’t the pain or the difficulty getting around.
The worst part, she recalled, was explaining, over and over, what had happened — that she’d undergone two surgeries in less than a year to repair torn labra in her hips.
“Every time someone comes up to you and asks what happened, you just want to punch them,” she said, laughing at the memory. “But you can’t, because you have to hold on to your crutches.”
The answer for Finn, now a junior at the School of Business at Stevens, was to customize her crutches, to express her creativity and turn the focus away from her injuries. She and her mom bought some fabric and sewed a set of New York Mets-themed crutches that Finn wore to a baseball game.
The effect was instantaneous — and incredibly helpful to her recovery.
“Suddenly, it wasn’t ‘Oh, you poor thing, what did you do?’ It was, ‘Where did you get those? Those are really cool, how did you make those?’ So people weren’t seeing an injury anymore,” she said. “It completely changed my rehab.”
'More in touch with the business side'
Since then, Genevieve’s Crutches has become a licensed nonprofit that has donated more than 250 decorated crutches, mainly to disabled veterans receiving care at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, who will need her crutches for life. The business is run by Finn; her mother, Regina; and her older sister, Casey; out of the family’s Allentown home. And while her mom keeps the books, Finn’s Stevens business education is improving how the nonprofit meets its mission.
“We’re more in touch with the business side,” said Finn, who is pursuing a Business & Technology major at Stevens with both a minor and a concentration in Computer Science. “Instead of scrambling around before a visit to Walter Reed, we’ll have meetings to see what materials we have, what sets we can do, lay out our targets and figure out what needs to be done. It’s little changes, maybe, but they make all the difference and save a lot of time.”
“The interviewers asked me in detail about my classes, and how I could apply them at work — and that was probably the easiest question they could have asked, because all the classes here at Stevens emphasize real-world application.”
While Genevieve’s Crutches involves the odd trip home to keep the business running, it doesn’t detract from how heavily involved Finn is on campus. She’s an admissions and business ambassador on campus, works as a tour guide and teaching assistant, and even volunteers in Hoboken. She also enjoyed a high-profile internship with JP Morgan Chase over the summer, working in the firm’s global technology infrastructure division; she’ll be returning to the bank next summer.
Finn learned of the internship through one of many the Stevens notifications about career and networking opportunities, which are regularly publicized by the Office of Career Development and the School of Business.
“The interviewers asked me in detail about my classes, and how I could apply them at work — and that was probably the easiest question they could have asked, because all the classes here at Stevens emphasize real-world application,” Finn said.
While on the job, Finn was tasked with remodeling JP Morgan Chase’s headcount and approval systems. Her information systems and computer science courses helped her complete those projects, while her management courses further developed her presentation and public speaking skills.
“In class, we do so many presentations, and it forces you to become comfortable in front of a room full of people,” she said. “I was very comfortable talking to managers and department heads as though they were my peers — without my Stevens experience, that would have been very difficult.”
Bridging the gap between tech, business
The position with JP Morgan Chase was ideal for Finn, who sees herself bridging the gap between the technology and business operations of a large company. The speed with which technology is disrupting established business practices has created opportunities for Stevens students, who study the possibilities future-oriented professionals can bring to industry, whether at big companies or their own startups.
“In my sophomore year, I was taking an information systems class, and Professor Michael Parfett pointed out that the business and technology sides of businesses really don’t talk,” Finn said. “And this internship really showed me that this area is a huge concern to corporations.”
It might seem strange to imagine Finn, the entrepreneur of Genevieve’s Crutches, as someone who wants to put her experience to use at a large company. For Finn, though, it’s a matter of perspective.
“A lot of people ask me, why wouldn’t you want to make this a career? And my response is, I want to keep it something I love,” she said. “A lot of times you’ll hear people who will make something like this their career, and it winds up becoming a chore for them. And that is not something I want to happen to me. This is a labor of love — I want to keep it that way.”
Genevieve’s Crutches is an accredited 501(c)3 nonprofit. To learn more or donate money or materials, visit www.genevievescrutches.com.