Rogue Student Teller Rises to Manage Branch Where He Started

April is National Credit Union Youth Month, and we’re highlighting stories about the impact credit unions have when they serve the younger members of their communities.

Derek Reeser, a shy junior at South Medford High School, was looking for a job. He wasn’t playing sports and he wanted to earn some extra money, or at least get some extracurricular experience.

When he heard about the Rogue Credit Union Student Branch on his campus, it piqued his interest. It sounded like something he might be good at, and it gave him the opportunity to spend time as a paid student teller working in a professional credit union branch.

He had no way of knowing that joining the student branch would change the trajectory of his life.

The Rogue Student Branch Program allows teachers and students to open accounts and conduct transactions right in their schools, in branches staffed and managed by high school students during lunch time, for which they get school credit. These students also have the opportunity to work as paid interns in Rogue’s professional branches, offering them invaluable work experience.

“Rogue Credit Union’s student branches and our involvement in our local high schools is our commitment to the communities we serve by building future leaders,” said Rogue President and CEO Gene Pelham. “I started in a similar program, and I can personally understand the positive impact on a career that these programs can have.”

At in-school branches, the students who staff and manage them get more than just transaction experience. They create a grand opening celebration for the branch, conduct an annual marketing campaign, and rally for a community service project in the spring.

For Reeser, the challenges offered in the Rogue Student Branch were just what he needed. “It broke the barrier of shyness,” he said. “By the time I got done with the program I was a completely different person.”

Reeser staffed his student branch during his junior year and managed it as a senior. And he spent many hours after school, on weekend, and during breaks working in one of Rogue’s professional branches.

“On a personal level, it gave me a better understanding of what life is like after high school,” said Reeser. “It taught me how to interact with adults at all different levels of society.”

When he graduated, Reeser got a job as a teller at Rogue’s South Branch. He used his earnings as a teller to put himself through college, all the while advancing until he was at the top level of teller. From there he moved to lending, and then to an assistant branch manager position, before moving up to become a branch manager himself.

Now, as manager of Rogue’s South Branch, Reeser engages with student tellers often. He said that, like himself at that age, the students need some coaching on how to offer professional service to members.

“They learn professionalism and customer service,” said Reeser. “I can remember what it was like to learn those things, and I try to teach them the same way. I see a lot of the students breaking the same barriers of shyness and insecurity that I did when I went through the program. They come away with huge skillsets for whatever they do after high school.”

Rogue has five student branches, and also has scholarships and educational resources to help local high school students reach their potential in personal finance and beyond.

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

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