Kitty Clemens – Southwestern Advantage, a company that cares

Kitty ClemensKitty has had three children work with Southwestern Advantage

Southwestern Advantage

Kitty Clemens on her children working with Southwestern Advantage

I could write you all about the things we have seen happening in our daughter, Charlotte, since she started working for Southwestern.  I could tell you that we, as parents, were not too keen on what she got herself into at the time.

This is about 9 years ago and Charlotte was “way too young” in our eyes to go and knock on doors with “who knows who” answering it. Being so far away from home getting into who knows what kind of trouble; not because of what she would do, but because of what others might do to her. Besides “were there no better jobs for her than that?”

She was raised in the country and how much real-world experience and street smarts does one gain there?

That was the first thing I could tell you about as well as the conversations we had with her and just between my husband and I.

I could also tell you about how she has grown because of that experience and the lessons she has learned over the years. How well she has done financially over the last 9 years and how she has been able to pay her way through university without any debts (we are very proud of that. She did this all herself. We were not in the position to pay for any of these things since we were raising 5 children).

However there are enough people who already have talked about that on this blog.

What I would like to talk about is the company and the people who make up this company.

In the beginning, we were not too impressed when our daughter told us what she was going work with Southwestern Advantage. Not only because we did not like our child knocking on doors, but we also “knew” that these kinds of companies are only there for their bottom line. Why would they care about our children, as long as they sold the books, the company would be happy.

Were we ever wrong! We got a taste of this fact two years ago when we were invited by Charlotte to come to Nashville for an awards ceremony. She had done exceptionally well that year and she told us that if we ever wanted to come and experience Southwestern, this should be the year.

To go into detail about the whole 5 days we were there will take too long, so I will just write about the most important things that I will never forget.

This was the Great Recruiters Seminar, an important meeting where many of the students returning for another summer come together to start their new year and learn how to introduce Southwestern to their friends on campus. They have seminars on how to do well in school, in Southwestern, and also great life principles on how to choose your spouse and your career.

We were shown the headquarters of Southwestern and we met a lot of important people there, like the president Dan Moore, who invited us into his home to have dinner. We met his wonderful wife Maria and some of their family. I have never experienced another company where the president would invite you into his home and cook for you. We had a wonderful time. These are amazing people who, we found when we shared over dinner and after, really care about the students and who want them to succeed. Not only in this job, but in their life.

We met Henry Bedford, the CEO, who came to introduce himself when we were given the tour through the company. He could have walked on and carried on with what he was doing, but by saying hello to us he made us feel really welcome. He told us about some of the issues he was working on to help teach the students to better manage their businesses to make sure they would end up saving more money at the end of the summer.

We also met Ralph Brigham, Southwestern’s Director of Campus Relations, when we were on our tour. He also took time out of his work to talk to us and made us feel very welcome. After the award ceremonies, which were a wonderful encouragement for anyone to watch, when the party was going on, we left and went back to the hotel. Not feeling ready to retire for the night, we opted to go for a drink at the hotel bar.  We ran into Ralph and his wife, Lori, who were there also with Dan and Maria Moore. They invited us to have a drink with them and we had a wonderful evening getting to know these people even more.

They talked to us as if we were the most important people out there. They went out of their way to show us the business and explained to us what they were doing. We met many young people in that building and they knew them all by name. They did not have to spend time with us, we had not expected that at all, but they made sure we felt very much part of the family.

We found that most of the people in the company had started in the book field. We met Trey Campbell, Southwestern’s Director of Public Relations, who, when he was hired, had not worked in the field.  He decided that in order to understand what the Southwestern business was all about he needed to go there as well. So one summer he did just that.

We found that these people had a real heart for the students and they went out of their way to help those young people to have the best experience. These leaders really wanted them to succeed and have the best summer they could have. They spent many hours making themselves available to who ever wanted to talk to them; from early breakfast meetings till late at night.

I highly regard them and what this company stands for.   They have a real heart for our youth and for the promise that is in these young people. They see that it is important to encourage them to strive for the best they can do, for they are our future. These leaders are not in the business of the bottom line (although that is important), they are in the business of training leaders and they are willing to put in long hours.

The young people could not be outdone either. They were at the meetings and soaked up every bit of information that was handed to them. These were students who came from all corners of the world and they had spent lots of money to get there. All of them had been working at least one summer and I saw that they really understood that to work with this company they would gain a lot of experience in a broad field; something you cannot find at fast food restaurants or big box stores. They were so eager and so motivated, it was inspiring.

Those who were there were the kind of people (the young ones and the leaders) who wanted something out of life and they were finding out that it would take work and dedication to get somewhere.

I have never seen a group of motivated young people and leadership as I have seen in this company and I have seen the difference it made to Charlotte, my oldest daughter, who, in her second summer, recruited her brother, Dan. He stayed for 3 summers and what he learned over those 3 years he is using now in his daily work.  Because of what he learned in Southwestern he has a great job and he uses lots of what he learned there, daily.

In 2010, my youngest daughter, Eleanore, ventured out for her first Southwestern Advantage summer.  Although she did not have as good as a summer she had hoped, she has made positive changes in her life and is returning for a second summer. One of the first phone calls I had from her when she was in the book field last year, was how inspiring the people were she was working with. These were people who had a goal in life. They were not just going to go to a job; they are going to go somewhere.

I now know that this company cares. I have never seen that anywhere before, I did not know that this existed. And as I was so concerned the first year when my first child went selling door to door and I wished she had taken any other of job available.  Ten years later, I have had 3 children participate in the Southwestern Advantage summer program, and both my daughter-in-law and son-in-law are Southwestern alumni.  I now find myself telling others about this company and passing on some of the information to them so that they can find out for themselves whether this may be a job they may want to do.


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