Find out how she did it
“I was coming into class late and exhausted every single day. I didn’t even think I was going to pass,” says Teresa Keeler CEO of Credit Boost Solutions. We’ve all been there. Stressed, overwhelmed, anxious about passing, and losing our drive, but here at FSC, you are never left to deal with it alone. We have every resource you could need, from extremely caring professors who go above and beyond every single day to mental health facilities. So, how did Teresa go from a stressed-out, struggling student losing her drive to a graduate with Latin Honors to a successful CEO? She credits much of this change to one of her business professors who stepped in to help when she could have just ignored the problem. When Teresa was struggling to balance everything, her business professor, Professor Louewanda Benjamin, pulled her aside one day and spoke to her about work/life balance.
Notorious for running into class late and frazzled every night, rather than just docking points, Professor Benjamin decided to talk to Teresa about what was going on. Teresa confided in her about her situation and found out that her professor actually had a very similar experience. She told Teresa how she managed it and taught her the intricacies of time management skills.
“That conversation changed my life.”
“I don’t know if it was realizing I wasn’t alone and that others before me had done it, but I realized I could do this. I knew it was possible. That conversation changed my life. It revived my drive just when I felt like I was ready to give up,” says Teresa, “It was still hard. I still had the same responsibilities, but now staying up until 2AM studying and getting up at 5AM for work was no longer unmanageable because I got my drive back.”
We all have struggles, and school is no one’s entire life. Time management is one of the most important skills we learn in college, and now is the perfect time to learn it. College will not be the only place where you have to figure out how to manage your time; after you graduate, you’ll need to have a work/life balance, and if you can figure out how to do that now, you’ll be ahead of many people once you enter the workforce.
Teresa’s professor was also able to remind her why she was doing this to begin with: her desire for a better future. She had renewed determination to get her degree in order to get a better job. She had been working for a lot of companies that didn’t pay enough as a single mom, and sometimes she hadn’t been able to afford rent or food. She wanted a better life for her kids, so she kept going. Her professor continued to check-in with her after class and via emails, which helped Teresa maintain her drive and determination to finish her degree. It also reminded her of her original inspiration.
“My mom remains my biggest inspiration to this day. I saw her work construction with three kids while getting a degree as a paralegal to make all of our lives better. Seeing her always pushing, even through cancer, she remained giving and strong. I was reminded of this, and I want to be half as strong as she was. My mom has always been my idol and always will be. I may have forgotten I was following her path trying to make a better life for my kids, but I finally remembered.”
Professors are invaluable people in our lives. Not only do they teach curriculum, but they also teach valuable life skills. Sometimes, they even remind us of who we are and why we’re here. If not for this professor taking the extra time to teach time management and going over and above, Teresa may not be where she is today.
Because Teresa learned work/life balance in college, she better manages it now as CEO and mother. She says the most important thing about time management is learning to prioritize. As a CEO, Teresa said her job is more of a random hour job, not a 9 to 5. Because of this, she sometimes has clients calling her at 9pm which is why prioritizing tasks is so important. She makes sure to get certain tasks done during the day so that she is not only available for these phone calls but for her life. She makes sure she is able to attend as many of her children’s functions as possible, even if she has to make the time up later. She ensures no one falls between the cracks: her kids or her clients.
Becoming a CEO was never on Teresa’s radar, however. She originally started off in the Marines before she went to college. She had a lot of job changes and major changes along the way, even at one point majoring in nursing before switching to business. “If one path doesn’t work, go for another,” Teresa says, “Try a bunch of different things and don’t get discouraged. If you fail, take that failure, and turn it into success.”
Teresa expressed that each job she had was an improvement from the one before it. It was a better opportunity, a better working environment, etc., but her last job as an executive assistant is what pushed her to make a change. She was self-managed and learned how to multitask and delegate tasks to others while also making sure to meet tough deadlines. All the skills she learned at that job prepared her to be a CEO. While working there, she graduated with a degree in Business Management with Latin Honors in 2015.
Teresa says the most helpful classes she took at FSC were her economics classes. They taught her everything going on today and how to accurately price things out to make as much money as fast as possible. She learned that she had to keep moving with the current economic climate. She says that much of what she learned in her classes here at FSC helped her to be the prepared CEO she is today.
Teresa is currently working with her clients on credit repair, debt management, and student loans, but is still moving to expand. She is getting a federal certificate within the next few months and has also begun working on financial counseling. She is determined to have a larger online presence and expand the number of employees and size of her business.
“A lot of people are going to say that the measure of success is money, but I don’t agree. Sure, if you make a lot of money, you’ll feel successful, but real success is being happy in your job and making a difference. I love making an impact on people’s lives,” says Teresa. “But of course, the money always helps,” she says with a laugh.
When asked what she’s really passionate about she said results. She loves to see the results of her work. For example, she shared that when starting her business, she got her personal credit score from 500 to 845. That’s what drives her, seeing results and making a difference in her clients’ lives.
“Figure out what drives you and stay focused.”
“Figure out what drives you and stay focused,” says Teresa, “To be successful, you have to like what you do. You have to put your heart and soul into it. Don’t go in only looking to make a lot of money, you have to like what you do. You can make a lot of money no matter what you do as long as there is passion behind it.”
When asked what advice she would give to current college students, she said, “Don’t be afraid to take classes outside of your major. I don’t know anyone who stayed in the same major their entire college career. Figure out what you like. Join clubs, go to school events, and remember that not everyone will come out immediately successful, it can take time.”
Keep moving forward, remember why you’re here, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. FSC is here for you every step of the way.