United Community Bank in Alcoa has a new board of directors. What they lack in experience, they make up for in enthusiasm.
The current board need not worry about their positions. This is a new junior board of directors created to mentor young people and give them opportunities to serve the community.
United Community Bank president Rick Shepard said this is the Blount bank’s first board and that junior board members are from all four area high schools and were chosen by their school administrators. The individuals must have a minimum 3.0 grade point average.
“They have to show leadership skills within the school and community involvement before they can be considered,” explained Shepard. “I consider the program one that offers community service, mentoring and a learning experience about not only real life experiences but also about business and finance. “
Shepard said he and coordinator Jeanne Hill are planning two field trips for the group this year. “One is going to be in October to the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta. In the spring, we’re going to visit the state capital with legislators and have lunch on Capitol Hill and be recognized in the Senate chamber by legislators.”
Shepard said there are several community projects the students will participate in also. The students will have two major projects geared toward raising money for the charities they choose to support.
“We have not made the final decision on which charities, but we will most likely do one focused on children’s services and the other involving senior citizens,” he said. “We’ve got a laundry list of ideas, and we are going to let the students have input as well. The program has to be a challenge for them, as well as meaningful and fun.”
Over and above the projects, the students also will learn about business etiquette and how board meetings are run. “The meetings will be formal but we’ll have fun,” said Shepard.
Kathie Roberts vice president and regional marketing coordinator for the bank, said the students also must uphold the United Community Bank code of conduct.
“This definitely gives them a smattering of what corporate life is like,” said Roberts. “They have to keep their own notes for meetings like the regular board of directors do.”
Shepard said that at the end of the school year, the students will help pick the next the junior board.
The students were excited about being on the board and what they could accomplish.
Megan Loftis, 17, a senior Maryville High School, said it was a great opportunity to get involved with the community and learn more about economics and finance. “I thought it was a great opportunity,” she said. “I hope to educate my age group about finance and the importance of community togetherness.”
Megan said she would like to go into a career in epidemiology. “I think this will give me a great sense of how to get involved with the community and how to bring the community together,” she said. “I want to go to other countries and help their hospitals, so I thought this was a great way to learn how get people involved in the community.”
Holly Metcalf, 17, a senior at Maryville High School, saw an opportunity to serve others.
“I’m looking forward to the community service aspect of it all,” she said.
Holly said she was undecided on a career choice for now. “I think this may help me. I was thinking about business, something were I would get to work with people and do things for people,” she said.
Ben Ferrell, 18, a senior at Maryville High School, said he was excited to be chosen for the junior board.
“Now that I’m in the program, I’m looking forward to going to different places and seeing how taxes come into play. We hear a lot about government subsidies and how they are bad. I want to see how they’re beneficial to the public.”
Ben said he is considering going into the military and would like to attend the West Point Military Academy. “I’m just in the application process, and I think this is a good leadership position,” he said. “A lot of people will look at the position I’m going to be in on the board, and I think it will be beneficial to me.”
Brooke Lanius, 17, a senior at Alcoa High School, said that when she was approached about being on the board, she thought it would be good experience for college and for life. “I thought it would give me help dealing with money and knowing how to deal with banks,” she said.
Brooke said she wants to become a doctor. “I’m not sure if this will help me with my major but it could help me with owning my own business,” she said.
Eric Lusinger, 17, a senior at Alcoa High School, was enthusiastic about working with students from other schools. “I thought it would be cool to work with all the individuals from other schools and work in banking with finance. I thought it would be pretty interesting.”
Eric said he is considering majoring in political science. “If I ever open a business, I think it would be great to know the backbone of banking,” he said.
Erin Bruce, 17, a senior at Alcoa High School, said she’s looking forward to the public service aspect of the program.
“I’m really excited about. There are a lot of community service things that will be good. When I go to college, I’ll be studying accounting and banking will be important to my major,” she said. “I think it’s a good experience to work with banks and see how they run as a board of directors. I’m pretty excited about that.”
Erin plans on majoring in accounting. “Working with a bank is going to help me learn about corporate accounting,” she said.
Clark Herd, 17, a senior at Heritage High School, said the program got his attention. “I thought it looked like an interesting thing to get into, and I wanted to see what it was about and what could happen with it.”
Clark said he is undecided on his career at this point. “I am considering doing something that might involve banking skills, which is another reason I got into this. It may help me see if it is something I might like,” he said.
Natalie Tucker, 17, a senior at Heritage High School, said she joined because she thought the program will be a good experience. “I thought it would give me good information and prepare me for banking and open my eyes to something I don’t know a lot about.”
Natalie said she wants to one day be a teacher. “I don’t know how this will help me in a career, but it will help me in life to know more about banking,” she said.
Reid Dixon, 17, a senior at Heritage High School, said the program will be a lot of responsibility for the participants. “I think it will help me in the future to see how businesses and banks run,” he said. “It will give me a lot more knowledge to get through college.”
Reid said he is deciding between the medical field and the music field for a career. “I don’t know how much this will help me as far as a career, but I think it will help me learn how a business runs and how a bank runs,” he said.
Lindsay Jowers, 17, a senior at William Blount High School, said she was excited to have a chance to be on the board. “I think it’s going to be great to be giving back to the community and being able to help other people out,” she said.
Lindsay said she hopes to one day be a company CEO. “I think this will help me immensely,” she said. “It will help me in understanding about meetings and boards and the atmosphere you would have to work in as a CEO.”
Rachel Gillespie, 17, a senior at William Blount High School, said she wanted to be involved with the program because she loves volunteer work. “I hope I can learn more about volunteering and making a difference in the community,” she said.
Rachel said she wants to become a missionary. “Anything to do with helping people and learning things are things that will point me in that direction are what I am interested in,” she said.
Shane Tretheway, 17, a senior at William Blount High School, said when he first heard about the program he was surprised he got nominated. “I thought it was such an honor. I expect it to be a really good experience, and it will help me learn how to get to know new people, help me with college scholarships, and I will be able to get some experience in community service. It will be good,” he said.
Shane said he plans on going into either aerospace engineering or computer engineering. “It will definitely give me experience on working with other people,” he said.