Jackson Martinez never planned on attending The Catholic University of America. During his senior year of high school, he applied to several universities across the country, paged through his acceptance letters, and committed to his favorite. After graduation, everything changed. While registering for orientation, Martinez began having doubts about the school of his choice. Even more unsettling, Martinez, “a numbers guy” ready to study accounting, began feeling called to major in theology.

“I’m not really a gut feeling kind of guy,” said Martinez. “I very much lead with my head, not my heart. It was the first time that I thought, ‘No, actually I’m supposed to listen to what my heart is saying,' and what it was saying was to study theology.”

Martinez told his mother about his change of plans (she took it in stride) and they began the college search all over again. It was June, just two months before the beginning of the fall semester. Still interested in accounting, Martinez wanted a school with strong programs in both business and theology. He eventually landed on The Catholic University of America. When Martinez and his mother flew to Washington, D.C., for a last-minute visit, Martinez knew within 10 minutes of the campus tour where he would wake up at the end of August.

“I said to my mom, ‘Alright that’s it, I don't need to see anymore,’ and she said, ‘Uh-oh, is that a good thing or a bad thing?’ and I said, ‘It's a good thing. This is the place I want to be.’  I fell in love with the place. I instantly felt at home and the feeling never went away.”

A theology and accounting double major, Martinez said that he gets a lot of strange looks when he tells people what he’s studying. Martinez, however, sees the disciplines as complementary.

“It’s the same thinking process in both disciplines, especially financial accounting and systematic theology. It’s the same framework, just different terms. You’re bound by a set of rules in both. Although,” he added, “in accounting the answer is always finite and in theology the answer is often infinite.”

Martinez has big plans for himself after graduation. He already has a summer internship lined up with an accounting firm in Florida — his home state — and in the fall, he hopes to attend graduate school. After earning his Master's of Accounting, he’ll work full time at a public accounting firm, hopefully in the field of data analytics. Martinez then plans to turn his attention toward his long-term goal of serving the Church.

“I want to bring the aspects of public accounting that make it so structurally sound and apply them to church accounting. Ultimately, I feel called to serve the Church. I feel like God has given me certain gifts in the form of accounting and I want to render service back to the Church in any way I can.”