St. Marys native Rachel Kell has found her accidental career choice rewarding in several different ways.
Rachel is currently employed by the Small Business Administration Office of the Inspector General in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, she was employed by the Department of Defense Inspector General in Arlington, Va.
“As an auditor, my job is to review federal government programs, contracts and acquisitions to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely, that government employees are adhering to established policies, laws and regulations, and to detect and prevent fraud, waste and abuse,” said Kell.
Rachel is the daughter of Dan and Anne Meyer of St. Marys. Her brother, Rob, also resides in St. Marys. She is the granddaughter of Dennis and Bernice Meyer of St. Marys and the late Robert and Emma Lupton.
On May 29 of this year, she married Ed Kell, originally from Clarksboro, N.J. They reside on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Kell is a 2003 graduate of St. Marys Area High School and a 2007 graduate of Juniata College, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting with a Secondary Emphasis in English. Since 2007, she has taken over 500 hours of training focused on government contracting, procurement and basic professional skills such as writing and interviewing.
“Over the years, I have been influenced by many people in many different ways. Most notably, I got my indomitable work ethic from my parents. They both work incredibly hard at everything they do and excel because of the effort they put in, and I strive to work in a similar manner,” said Rachel.
She said that several experiences in her life also helped influence her in her career. From 2002-03, she was a drum major for the St. Marys Area High School Marching Band and in 2006-07, she was elected president of the Juniata College Dance Ensemble.
“These roles gave me the confidence to be a leader for several of the projects to which I have been assigned at both the Department of Defense and the Small Business Administration Inspector General,” said Kell.
Rachel said through her job with the Department of Defense Inspector General, she has had one of the most interesting and eye-opening experiences of her life.
In November of 2008, she traveled with her team to Baghdad, Iraq, to complete the fieldwork portion of their audit. They took a 13- hour flight to Doha, Qatar, and the following day, they took another five-hour military flight to Baghdad. While there, they were housed at both Camp Victory and in the International Zone on the grounds of one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces, which was converted to office space. They traveled via caravan between the two sites in Mine Protected Ambush Resistant (MRAP) armored vehicles. While there, Rachel was given the opportunity to see the conditions and the environment in which the soldiers have lived and worked since 2003.
“It was heartening to see that almost everyone had a positive attitude and a hopeful outlook on the future. It was also incredibly rewarding to see and get to know the people whom we hoped our work would benefit in the future. Putting faces to the nameless “war fighters” gave us a renewed ambition and motivation to work hard to ensure that these men and women received the supplies and services that they need in a timely manner, at the highest quality, and for the best price,” said Kell.
Rachel stumbled into her present career.
“During my senior year of college, I attended an accounting symposium in Pittsburgh, where I was interviewed by the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General. Several weeks later, I was notified that I would be receiving an employment offer from them. After talking it over with family and friends, I decided that the salary, benefits, and opportunities for advancement and rotation within the government were the best offer I had received and I accepted the position.” said Rachel.
However accidental her career choice was, she has found it to be rewarding in several different ways.
“While working with the Department of Defense Inspector General, our focus was the safety and efficiency of the war fighter. It gave me an immense sense of pride to know that the work I was doing could help to save a life or potentially make a soldier’s job easier and thus, allow him or her to return home quickly and safely. And now, at the Small Business Administration, I am helping to promote small businesses and, especially small business owners, throughout the United States,” said Kell.
“I also gained another very special personal reward: my husband, Ed. We met while working together at the Department of Defense Inspector General, dated for three years, and were married this past May at Shiloh Presbyterian Church in St. Marys,” added Rachel.