Big Dreams from Small Town Iowa
April 22, 2019
Since I was a kid, I planned on doing something big with my life. I had huge dreams for someone who was 5 foot tall and from the middle of Iowa. In 2013 I had set the personal goal that I was going to become a cosmetologist and do hair for the stars in California. Those large dreams came to a halt when I met my husband and made the big move to the small town of Pella. While we were in Pella, I started a “short” part time jo b to help pay our bills at our financial institution, Community 1st Credit Union, while I grew my cosmetology business. A few months in, I got the opportunity to be the full-time Member Service Representative at the Pella branch. This position completely changed my career path.
I was never into politics or policies growing up, so when I was eligible to vote in the 2016 presidential election, I was terrified. On the ballot was a long list of candidates and I had no idea what they did or why I should vote for them. I was young and thought “how will my vote really make a difference?”
In the summer of 2018, my boss encouraged me to apply to Crash the Iowa Credit Union League Convention. I had no idea what “crashing” meant but I loved getting involved with things and out of the office, so I grabbed my chickens and made an application video. To my surprise, I was selected and Crashed in September along with 15 other amazing young professionals. It was during this 3-day convention, I really found the spark for advocacy and love of credit unions. The Iowa Credit Union League Convention changed me.
I loved Crashing so much that I grabbed my chickens again and applied for the GAC. When I was chosen to be 1 of the 2 Crashers from Iowa, was elated! What an opportunity! In the days and weeks leading up to, and even when I arrived in DC, I didn’t know what to expect. A group of 100 complete strangers soon became our #crasherfam. We all came from different areas and different positions but we all had the same passion for credit unions. During the GAC we heard from credit union leaders, political speakers, and inspiring people all focused on the credit union movement. One of the days, I had the chance to Hike the Capitol Hill and speak with Iowa politicians Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst, and David Loebsack. Crashing the GAC was an amazing experience that is difficult to put into words. Who knew a small town girl with dreams to be a hairstylist on the West coast, would be given the opportunity to make a difference on the East coast and across the nation!
Even though my dreams are no longer in the cosmetology field, they are still as big as they have always been… but are just for something a bit more important. The fact that I get to wake up and go to a job that I love with an industry that values and supports me and all young professionals in the industry is beyond amazing to me.
Kayla Kaufman, 2019 GAC Crasher