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U.S. Bank Welcomes TSF Student Leaders

Written by TSF Vista Alex Streitz

At The Sanneh Foundation, we offer a Student Leadership Development Program. Student leaders serve as coaches for TSF free summer sports camps from Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, they come together at partner organizations to learn leadership skills and explore future career opportunities and interact with professionals who work in those fields. These are known as Student Leader Partner days.  On Friday, August 9th, the student leaders as well as members of The Sanneh Foundation, attended and led a training event at the U.S. Bank headquarters in downtown Minneapolis. The goal of the training was to teach these students public speaking and financial literacy. 

Martin Kambaki, a former Dreamline coach and current VISTA supervisor for The Sanneh Foundation, led the public speaking portion. Many important factors of public speaking were touched on. This included; the three types of public speaking (informative, persuasive, and entertaining), improving verbal and nonverbal skills of public speaking, how to overcome anxiety, etc. Student leaders were happy to participate, and eager to gain tools in an area that many might struggle with. Two students, Muna and Tochie, both really enjoyed what Martin showed them. In Muna’s words, “I can’t really speak in front of a lot of people, I get really scared at school or just anywhere, so some of the tips he showed us… just really helped me, and I’m going to use all of the tips he told us about today.” Tochie then had this to say, “Martin’s presentation was really helpful. I also get anxiety when I’m speaking in public, and I think that the skills that he taught us I’m going to apply in school, and everyday life.”

“I think that the skills that he taught us I’m going to apply in school, and everyday life.”

After the presentation, groups split up for a lunch break where they had a chance to eat with and talk to U.S. Bank executives. These included CDC Project Manager JeryiLynn Young, Finance Managers Alex Woodburn and Sam Lee, Operations Manager Anu Pal, and Senior Relationship Manager Michelle DeGree. Student leaders had the chance to directly ask executives as many questions as they wanted prior to  the executive panel that would be held later. Others hung out in the lobby area, having casual conversation and taking photographs with execs. Tony Sanneh was also there to interact with the student leaders, answer questions, and provide coaching and mentorship.

The next portion of the event was a presentation on financial literacy presented by Melissa Johannsen, who has an extensive past in marketing and finance. The first part of the presentation focused around the basics of banking. She touched on checking, including how to deposit checks and run a checking account and debit card. She then moved on to credit and credit scores and what that all means. The students asked many questions along the way, taking charge of getting as much out of the presentation as they could. The presentation ended with a game of financial jeopardy, which the students took to well, showing off a bit of their competitive side as they attempted to answer questions from different categories based on the presentation. 

The final activity of the day was the executive panel, where 5 executives were interviewed about their experiences with U.S. Bank and in the banking world as a whole. Panelists included CBSS Strategy & Initiatives Executive Werner Loots, SVP Corporate Social Responsibility Liz Dezie, EVP Community Finance Solutions Kyle Hansen, SVP Consumer Marketing Executive Karen Deutsch, and Payment Groups Chief Risk Officer Dan Spiller. They talked about their own specific jobs, and what drew them to the corporation and the banking world. They then highlighted many different things that tie into U.S. Bank, such as corporate philanthropy and promoting social and financial welfare, among other ethical ventures. They also touched on confronting adversity, and the challenges of racial and gender bias and making your way through corporate America, and to work to diversify it more and more. They also offered advice to the students about pursuing their passions and how to succeed in their own endeavors. Some memorable quotes from this section were, “Pay attention to what interests you, listen to that,” “assuming positive intent about everyone will get you far,” and “people look for innate curiosity.” Students asked, “What did you want to do growing up” and “Do you want to do banking for the rest of your life?” There were some informative answers, and a powerful closing statement from one of the panel members about why banking is an important career choice for them, “there is an opportunity to lift people from poverty and address the wealth gap in this country and change it.” 

“There is an opportunity to lift people from poverty and address the wealth gap in this country and change it.” 

At the end of the day, the students and staff took a group photo to commemorate their experience. Then all were left to reflect on the value of the lessons. Overall everybody was satisfied, and the students left with information that they will carry with them throughout their futures. We are grateful to our partner U.S. Bank and look forward to future partner events.