By: Katelyn Cooper, ETBU senior business major
“I’m in New York City sitting in a room. It’s 10:00 a.m. and the CFO for the company walks in, and we knew that something was really wrong,” Peter Muriungi explained. “He said, ‘We have a problem, but everything will be fine.’ By 5:00 that evening, about $3 billion worth of investments were withdrawn as people called to get their money back. I got on a plane Thursday morning. I returned home Friday, and the company was sold for $2 per share. All my money and all I had ever done was in that company. That’s all I knew, so the crisis was probably the most dramatic change in my life.”
Peter Muriungi, originally from Nairobi, the capital of and largest city in Kenya, recounts a situation where his graduate school education at East Texas Baptist University prepared him to face a major crisis in the workplace. Although the chaos was overwhelming, Muriungi found purpose in the experience. Throughout the adjustment, he realized the necessity of an eternal outlook and approached the circumstance with openness and positivity.
“For whatever reason, I was so intrigued by trying to figure things out. The ability not to panic was God-given,” Muriungi confessed. “I was young. I had no money. I had very little to lose, but at the time it felt like everything was gone.”
His drive to make a difference during the economic downturn led to a deeper understanding of how the system worked. He built strong relationships during that time with very important people. Muriungi found a way to make the most out of a time of loss in his life. Not only did he personally endure calamity, but he was involved in the consequences of the company’s insolvency. In his role, Peter was responsible for terminating positions in the aftermath of this financial crisis.
“I realized through that period how much suffering there was,” Muriungi reflected. “The employee settlements actually helped me to see people and to understand what was happening to them. They were losing their jobs and their homes, with no prospect of finding another job. Their whole lives were destroyed. It changed my perspective and now I see the bigger picture.”
His own suffering enabled him to relate to his coworkers and mourn alongside them. The experience taught him how to focus on the needs of others and trust the hand of the Lord. Peter was reminded that, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Although Peter’s plan for his life did not happen as expected, he rested in the direction God had steered him.
Today, Peter is the executive leader of the Mortgage Banking Division at J.P. Morgan Chase Bank in Dallas, Texas, where he, his wife, Mercy, and their two children live.
“People who know mortgage servicing and its complexities might find it a bit crazy and challenging, but I absolutely love it,” Peter exclaimed. “Mostly because I was prepared for it through my professional experiences and my education at ETBU.”
Muriungi encourages students to pursue graduate degrees, which he believes will give them a deeper understanding of and enjoyment from what they are learning. He has experienced firsthand how a graduate education teaches students how to apply their learning to their actual work later in life.
“I have learned the importance of believing in certain things that are true and don’t change over time,” Muriungi shared. “Institutions like ETBU teach you that. You can learn math at any institution, but the value system is the most important thing.”
Peter received a Master of Business Administration from ETBU and left with more than just an education. In addition to academic discipline, ETBU provides a valuable spiritual foundation for students. Muriungi gives credit to the University for his holistic preparedness during the crisis.
“Every single day I am thankful that I went to graduate school at ETBU,” Muriungi said. “In life, you’re thrown curve balls and difficulties. Without the proper education and the preparation to understand them, these difficulties would almost be impossible to process.”