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WBF Scholarship Set Careers in Motion

By Hannah Flanders

In 2008, Leah Wilson was awarded the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) Spring Scholarship, which, at that time, was the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s (WBA) Retail Banking Section “Technical College” Scholarship. While a lot has changed since the mid-2000s not only in Wilson’s career, but also in the banking industry; some things remain absolutely the same — bankers’ commitment to their communities and to the future success of the banking industry

Between her junior and senior year in high school, Wilson began her career in banking as a teller at Mid-Wisconsin Bank in Neillsville. Shortly after, she had decided that a career in banking would align well with her passion for business and math while also allowing her to work within the office setting she had always envisioned.

In the last several years, Wilson has held many positions throughout the bank from teller to personal banker and is now assistant vice president – mortgage lender and assistant branch manager at Citizens State Bank of Loyal in Neillsville. Her expertise in the industry is a result of her dedication to bettering her community and understanding how to navigate her career path.

As she looks back upon the last 14 years in the banking industry, she credits WBA’s scholarship for her ability to further her education at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) in Eau Claire. While in the business management program, she was able to complete many courses that continue to be beneficial to her career.

In addition to the CVTC courses she pursued with the scholarship, Wilson has attended several courses offered by WBA, including Residential Mortgage Lending School and Lending Boot Camp, that have allowed continuous growth in her career. “I have learned a lot through the education opportunities provided by the WBA,” says Wilson. “I would encourage people to familiarize themselves with these opportunities and use them.”

Within the community banking environment, in which she has spent much of her career, Wilson has been able to take advantage of many opportunities offered in the bank to further explore several different departments and discover which career path was best suited for her goals and interests. The opportunities, provided in part by WBA and her bank, have allowed Wilson to take ownership of the career path she desired as well as continue to grow alongside the industry — long after the scholarship was awarded.

Ultimately, the opportunities have provided Wilson access to what she considers to be some of the “endless benefits of working in a community bank,” including the ability to build strong relationships with customers, develop deeper connections within the community, and develop her own path that aligns with her goals and interests.