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Conversations with the Inspiring Riley Crusha

Today we’d like to introduce you to Riley Crusha.

Riley, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in an incredibly small town in northern California called Shingle Springs. It is one of those towns where you live so close you can walk to school and then your friend’s house after, and every time you go to the grocery store you see at least 8 people you know. It was really fun growiqang up there, it is ten minutes from the American River, forty minutes from Lake Tahoe, and two hours from San Francisco. Although the town was adventurous, opportunity wise to grow in life and meet new people isn’t necessarily there so I chose the greatest city I could think of to move to: San Diego, California. I grew up incredibly shy and timid and so the fact of leaving my comfortable hometown for a big city to find myself was absolutely frightening. So, what did I do? I brought my toxic high school relationship down with me, I chose to major in what my mom told me to study at San Diego State because I had no idea what I wanted to do (accounting), and I set forth into the unknown. Luckily, my dad’s whole family lives down here, so that was a huge comfort factor especially when life got a little shaky.

My first year in San Diego was fine, however, I was still in my relationship that limited me from meeting new people, keeping friends, and honestly participating in things I loved. I was defined by this boy and didn’t realize it until my second year. This is where things get interesting. During my second year at SDSU, one day I woke up out of bed thinking I am doing this all wrong. Barely having a foundation of faith in God, I was certain “this relationship is not God’s plan for me” and so I ended the relationship, and truthfully, this was when my life began. I felt free to meet new people and rediscover what I love to do. I had free time to volunteer with the Alzheimer’s association, join clubs on campus, take weekend getaways, and I even said yes to studying abroad in England for a full year! I felt set back, and someway somehow chains were dropped and I was overwhelmed with joy as I sought out passion. I mentioned my lack of faith at the time because that became a huge indicator. I learned that God loves me and my value stands there, not in any person, event, or even what I am studying at school. God was redefining me and I was loving it! I went from a shy girl afraid to interact with humans to this person who would dive deep into conversation with someone in an elevator moving up 5 floors. How do I explain it? I just decided to yes and okay to whatever was thrown my way. Some of those things thrown my way were new amazing friends, fun school clubs, a church community, and again a whole year abroad studying in another country. The story can continue on and on, but once I discovered the power in making the most of where I am at, for myself not just to please someone else, I became the happiest I have ever been.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think I’ve finally officially realized life isn’t really full of any smooth roads. There are long, steep hills that seem impossible to climb and there are valleys you can run down so fast you fall on your face from the decline. There are blind corners, objects on the road, and even too many turns to chose from. But to me, this is a lot more fun than a smooth journey. This is where growth, perseverance, and power have the opportunity to prevail! With that, I feel like I face struggles every day, whether it is saying the wrong thing out loud to someone or making a mistake on an assignment I have to turn in. More transparently to my life, my first struggle would have to be the whole idea of love. Yes, absolutely love is incredible but as I mentioned before I was in a pretty serious relationship that led to a lot of placing my value in the ‘love’ I felt for this person and what they felt for me. Which in turn, ended up not being the love I thought it was at all. And boy are breakups ROUGH? For me, every ounce of my personality felt demolished. Questions of whys, hows, what’s consumed me for a long time even though I felt I knew it was for the better. My advice in that is to hold on to that hope that you know it is for the best. And to truthfully realize life does not have to revolve ONLY around romantic relationships. There are friends, family, opportunity and a whole big world out there that you can pour your heart and energy instead. Surround yourself with people who want to see you grow and bring smiles to your face. Don’t run from the pain, but rather confide in it, own it, and I promise you it will leave you way faster than you think. And life can begin, again, and this time even better.

Another HUGE struggle that comes to my mind is what I chose to study in school. As I mentioned briefly in my life story, I chose a major solely off of what my mom answered when I asked her what I should study. What was the answer? Accounting. Now, accounting is a great career, full of opportunity and success absolutely. But for me personally, as I have discovered myself I really don’t resonate with number crunching and sitting in a cubicle for 8 hours straight. And my struggle has been that I have DOOMED myself over and over again to that being my reality. But ready for the overcoming aspect? I’ve come to figure out I made up this reality in my head. I took time to learn through an internship that accounting actually isn’t a white cubicle hole of staring at a computer all day. Boy am I happy I took time to figure that out. I also took time to fit some of my passions into my downtime. Just because I am becoming an accountant doesn’t mean I can’t volunteer anymore or travel or meet new people. My advice on this, find a job you love, or maybe one you don’t, but find something in life that you do love and make sure you pursue it every day, somehow someway. And for me, that is my passion to serve on mission and travel. I said yes to doing a hospitality internship at a church while still being a full-time accounting student, I went on a medical mission trip with a ton of doctors to Honduras knowing nothing about medicine, I studied abroad for a whole year after the business counselor told me it is nearly impossible for accounting majors to study abroad even for a week, I took a ten-day break from studying for my CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exams to go hike through the Peruvian mountains and see Machu Picchu. Long story short, even though it has not led to the path I am ‘suppose’ to be on, I have said yes and I have never, ever regretted any moment of taking a new turn down the not so smooth road I am on. Struggles and pain are temporary, and there is beauty in it all. I still have a job lined up in accounting and I am stoked because I turned that identity struggle into one radical adventure.

Oh and also, take any opportunity you can to become a dog aunt, ie take care of your friend’s dogs when they are out of town and spoil them, so they love you. There is nothing like a dog’s love to bring absolute joy to your life, really!!

What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
I graduated a semester late from San Diego State University (the only way to make studying aboard work for a year 😀 ) and so I have been done with school since December 2018. However, I have a signed job with a public accounting firm BDO as an auditor that starts October of this year. In the 10 months leading up to it, I have spent my time Nannying for a really incredible family, studying for CPA exams, and honestly taking any chance I can get to travel. I also completed a 20 hour a week all-volunteer internship with a church named Flood. Though that was not necessarily a paying job, it was a lot of work that called for time management, self-growth, vulnerability, healthy criticism, confrontation, and perseverance. I loved this internship because it was a platform where I got to learn about people and love them beyond any flaw. As community has been such a vital part of my growth and stability in my life, I believe everyone else should experience that too. I feel I am known for being inviting and inclusive in any situation with new friends and old friends. I love diving deep into conversations and having people know that I hear them, they are not alone, and they are loved. In a work environment, I feel like this is an important aspect because I want to be a team player. And as someone who loves to create an opportunity for life-giving community and outreach, I believe it is so important to make the most of any situation. And also, I do not want to conform to the stereotypes. With accounting for example, yes, I have heard they are the boring, bland, number crunchers, but who says we all have to be like that or that we are even like that? I believe it is time to let us define our job, not the other way around and just make the most of who we get to work with and love who we spend time with.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
Coming from studying a major that is majority males, to going into a career of that as well, from even being apart of a church the branches from a male-dominated pastoral past, there are a lot of barriers of women in leadership I have seen. The lack of females, in general, can be intimidating for both ends, not necessarily knowing how to navigate females rising up, and trusting their wisdom and experience. But apart from the male patterns we kid o all easily see, I think another barrier is the lack of females building each other up and rooting for each other. Comparison and jealousy, sadly, can easily overcome mindsets and situations. But I truly believe, women who build women up and work together versus against each other can be powerful. How does it happen? You do have to be setting yourself apart and again going in on a basis of building trust and showing compassion. I believe this barrier can be so powerful to overcome. Believe in yourself, believe in others, and in return, others will hopefully realize they can believe in you, too.

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Image Credit:
Forrest Hicks

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1 Comment

  1. lauren vernon

    October 15, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    I am SOOO incredibly proud of you!! You go girl!!

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