Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Entrepreneurial Spirit of WSU

Kathleen Weedman – WSU Grad and Local Entrepreneur

It took a lot of people believing in Kathleen Weedman to make her believe in herself. As a student at Lower Columbia College, she took three years to complete a transfer degree as a Business major. Jeff Waybright, an LCC instructor and Kathleen’s advisor at the time, told her that she should look beyond a two-year AA degree in Business and instead focus her sites on a four-year degree. This was when she began visiting the WSU Learning Center in Longview on the LCC campus. Kathleen met with Mary Stender, WSU Vancouver Business Advisor, in the Learning Center and discussed her remaining lower-division requirements. She was working in the LCC Finance office at the time as a workstudy student and enjoyed that aspect of business. Even when the occasional class was frustrating and life was getting in her way, her supervisor in the Finance Dept., Debbie Karjola, told her that quitting wasn’t an option. She owed it to herself to continue.

Kathleen began taking business classes through Washington State University Vancouver on the LCC campus while finishing up her required courses at LCC. The WSU Learning Center had initiated a contract with the WSUV Business Dept. to offer all core business classes via distance technology (WHETS) on the LCC campus. Most of these classes were offered in the evenings, which enabled Kathleen to continue working for LCC during the day. Kathleen had amassed enough credits to apply for the 13 credit petition, so she was allowed to transfer in the maximum number of credits.

Kathleen continued to use the WSU Learning Center as she began to complete the upper-division coursework necessary to earn a TRIPLE major in Business – Accounting, Finance and Accounting Information Systems. She credits her WSU Vancouver instructors in making her believe that she could do anything she set her mind to do. When she began her career at WSU, she was intimidated by the fact that she was one of the older students in many of her classes. Her WSU instructors (most notably Claire Latham, her advisor and occasional instructor) helped her to get over her self-proclaimed hang up. Kathleen said that Claire “really gets behind” all of her students and helps them to succeed, both in school and afterwards. It was Claire and another instructor at WSUV who encouraged her to take some time off after graduation, if she could; to take a break and really find out what she might want to do. It was their belief in her that made her think that this might be possible.

After another three years and her subsequent graduation from WSU Vancouver, Kathleen decided to use the equity that she had accrued in her home to start up her own real estate business entitled Equity Matters. She purchased a couple of homes and spent the next few months doing a complete renovation on one of them, mainly by herself. The transition was a bit of a buffer between her life as a student and life out in the real world because she felt that she was going from one learning environment to another. The experience she gained doing research for her classes at WSUV was invaluable to her as she researched and learned the skills required for her new business. She also learned at school that the key to success was knowing the right questions to ask and the right people to ask them of, and these facts were reiterated during the first years of her business.

Equity Matters has since added property management, income tax preparation and personal finance consulting to its agenda. Kathleen finds great fulfillment in utilizing the skills she learned in school in continuing to build her successful business. She credits her instructors with instilling the confidence in herself to believe that she could actually be her own boss. They recognized that she had the drive, and gave her the hard skills to enable her to realize her dreams.