Genes Blog - Investing in our Future!

As I continue to look back on what Rogue has been able to accomplish over the last several years, our student branch program stands out. It’s a perfect example of how member growth and support has allowed your credit union to expand our community impact. While our program was on hiatus while our schools were closed, our commitment to the program has never wavered. With the reopening of our schools, it is such an exciting time to see our student branch program back open and helping to build the future leaders of our credit union and community.

History of the Student Branch

Our high school student branch program started as a result of a senior project for former employee Jason Lukaszewicz in 1992. With the support of our CEO Vern Arnold, the branch officially opened in South Medford High School in 1993. Tim Alford, our next CEO, was a champion of the student branch program and oversaw the opening of our second high school student branch at Ashland High School in 1995. I stumbled my way into financial services through a college level training program and understood how these programs provided the opportunity to positively change the trajectory of a young person’s life.

I became Rogue’s CEO in 2007 and in 2008 we opened a student branch at my alma mater Eagle Point High School. In 2010, our North Medford student branch opened and in 2013 our partnership with Chetco Federal Credit Union resulted in the opening of the Bruin branch in Brookings High School. As we saw the incredible impact on our student branch employees, we knew we had to do more. Therefore, in 2015 we opened our first campus branch at Southern Oregon University. Our most recent high school student branch was opened in Grants Pass High School in 2016. With our move into Roseburg, we partnered with Umpqua Community College for our second campus branch in 2019. The branches offer limited hours to support the student’s educational focus while providing important services to students and staff. Each high school student branch and campus branch is operated by students, with the support and oversight of a local branch.

The most important aspect of our investment in our student branch program is the impact on the students that go through the program. The students gain a jump-start on their careers often starting as sophomores in high school. They learn a variety of important skills that many of their peers are not be exposed to until several years later. With the addition of our campus branches, we now provide the opportunity for our students to continue their education while significantly expanding their skill set in our campus branch program. Our student branch program is an investment that has paid significant dividends for our credit union and the communities we serve. I thought I would highlight a couple of our recent student branch program grads and how their paths are making a difference for Rogue and within Southern Oregon.

Gabby

A former student branch teller from Eagle Point, Gabby started as a sophomore and spent three years in the student branch program, including serving as the student branch manager. When Gabby chose to attend Southern Oregon University, she was an obvious choice for our campus branch. Once again, she excelled and led Rogue’s community outreach activities with various events and activities at SOU. Upon graduation, Gabby clearly had a variety of choices available to her on where she could take her career. Fortunately, for us…she chose Rogue Credit Union to fulfill her desire to make a positive impact. Her work with the Marketing team during her time in college got her excited about the possibilities of building a career at Rogue and she now serves as a Junior Digital Production specialist on our Marketing team. Gabby is a perfect example of the great student branch employees that have chosen to build their career at Rogue Credit Union. From impactful leaders to up and coming stars like Gabby, our credit union team is benefitting in more ways than we can measure from the investment in our student branch program. It is a win for the student, a win for our members, a win for the credit union and a win for our community when our students chose to build their career at Rogue Credit Union.

Kendell

Now, let me tell you about one of the great ones that got away…and Southern Oregon is so much better for it! With a family background in financial services, Kendell seized the opportunity to be a part of the student group that opened our North Medford student branch in 2015. This opportunity for Kendell was so much more than an opportunity to build her college resume. She dove right in and quickly become someone to watch at Rogue. She got my attention from one of our first interactions as she called me Mr. Pelham out of respect and appreciation for the opportunity we had given her. With her experience in opening the North Medford student branch she was instrumental in helping us open the Southern Oregon University campus branch. Nevertheless, she didn’t stop there! She provided financial literacy classes to SOU students and became a key summer employee from our Marketing team and other teams during her summer breaks. She also was active with SOU sports teams as she found her love for physical therapy. Because Kendall had big aspirations and big capabilities, she pursued a doctorate in physical therapy after her graduation from SOU. While pursuing her doctorate she continued to work for us during the summers. Even though she was with us for a few short months each year, she made a huge contribution to our success. Earlier this year, Kendell graduated with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy and is now working back in Southern Oregon pursuing her passion to help others through physical therapy. I am so excited Rogue was able to play a part in Kendell’s growth and how that will benefit our community. While Kendell doesn’t work for us any longer, she will always be part of the Rogue team.

Legacies Continued

Often our student branch staff members are hired because they are forward looking and understand the opportunity, they have to make a difference by building key skills early in their work career.  It is so rewarding for me to see the impact our former student and campus branch staff are making for our credit union, the communities we serve and for our country. Our community has benefitted from a former student branch employee that played a key role in wildfire recovery. We have benefited from former students that went on to lead local firms and playing key roles for large employers. In addition, former student employees have served our country providing critical care on foreign battlefields. Rogue Credit Union’s ongoing investment in our students give them a jumpstart on their careers and a key appreciation for how their service to others will benefit us all. Every student branch even has their own scholarship opportunity available! So, if you know any aspiring students at the high schools or campuses mentioned above, encourage them to check out and apply for our student program… who knows… someday they might even become the CEO of their local credit union!

I truly enjoy the messages I receive from our members in response to these posts and suggestions for future topics. So, please reach out to me at rogue@roguecu.org to share your thoughts and ideas.