There's no place like 'your own' home ...
Sheila Egerson ('98 - Communication) realizes that there's not much difference between a first-generation college student and a first-generation homebuyer. In each case there is a wealth of confusion, red tape, data overload, and a large price tag that can be a disincentive. As a first-generation college graduate herself, Egerson has utilized her educational and personal experiences - first as an admissions counselor at UW-Parkside and now as a community mortgage loan officer at Johnson Bank - to convince people to overcome these obstacles and take the plunge. "You can achieve anything if you put your mind to it," she said, as she advises and helps her clients navigate the possibilities to enrich their lives.
Egerson's powers of persuasion were what brought her to the halls of Johnson Bank, with headquarters in Racine, Wis. Ever the tireless worker, she was employed as an admissions counselor at UW-Parkside by day and a beauty consultant at Boston Store in the evening. During one particular beauty session, she offered a customer a free makeover, selling a bagful of products as a result. Egerson thought nothing more about it until a few months later when the woman's husband entered the store. "He said, 'My wife was so impressed with you; she said I needed to talk you into working for me,'" Egerson recalled. When she discovered he was Dan Mekemson, senior vice president of the mortgage division at Johnson Bank, her interest was piqued. And when Mekemson learned that not only did Egerson have excellent sales and customer service skills, but also an undergraduate degree from UW-Parkside and a master's degree in progress, he was duly impressed. They worked together to create a position that took advantage of her relationship-management skills and knowledge of the Racine community.
Egerson became the first loan officer to specialize in central-city mortgages. Her research into grant opportunities has allowed many first-time and first-generation homebuyers to achieve the dream of owning their own home. With her guidance, Egerson discovered that she could help people make one of the biggest decisions of their lives. For potential buyers who are not approved, Egerson counsels them on the importance of managing credit and guides them through the process of improving their credit ratings. At the end of the day, Egerson said she empowers her customers "with the skills to achieve their own goals."
Egerson can frequently be found giving presentations throughout the Racine community, where she taps into the leadership skills developed at UW-Parkside. She had many faculty and staff advisers who encouraged her to take advantage of every opportunity she could. Egerson became president of the Black Student Union, vice president on the Student Activities Board, and also served as a campus ambassador. She said her attitude was "the sky's the limit," and this is the same advice she passes on to her clients.
Egerson prides herself on being a role model to many young people. "I try to do my part to make Racine a better place," she said, "because this is my home."