I like to tell people, when they ask me what I do for work, that I am “an accidental mortgage banker.” It was not my first choice of careers, but I could not be more happy to work in this industry because there is a lot of work to do to make it better.
My personal life experiences – growing up in a single-parent home, working in minimum-wage jobs, meeting and learning the stories of undocumented immigrants, personally feeling the harm of not being able to get health care as someone with a pre-existing condition – these life experiences opened my eyes and gave me a perspective that I carry with me into my work as a mortgage broker.
As a teenager, I was growing up after the 2008 recession. I heard my older friends talk about how they had lost their home in an illegal foreclosure, or were fighting to keep their home. Other friends shared stories of predatory loans, or falling victim to identity theft. Hearing these stories, before I became a loan officer and then broker, made me upset. They instilled within me a deep understanding that what bankers do, and don’t do, can have life-long consequences in people’s lives.
Before I became a mortgage broker and created Mortgage On A Mission, while I was a college student in East Texas, I was on the receiving end of a lot of support. As someone living with Type I juvenile diabetes, for many many years I was unable to get health insurance, until the Affordable Care Act passed. To get the life-saving insulin that I needed, I relied on the assistance of a local non-profit, People Attempting to Help (PATH). I was lucky. Unlike some other diabetics who have literally died from not being able to afford insulin, I was blessed by the work of local non-profits and caring doctors and nurses who made sure that I had what I needed and did not go without. Recently I have traveled to Canada to buy my insulin at a 90% discount compared to prices in the United States. It is quite obvious to me the role that pharmaceutical companies play, much like banks, in the lives of people in our communities.
I went to college on the Pell Grant, a federal aid program that expanded college affordability in the 1960s and ’70s, thanks to Senator Claiborne Pell, which helps kids from lower-income families attend college. I am grateful for what Senator Pell did in helping millions of students gain a college diploma. I am grateful to all of my professors who helped give me the tools I would need to enter the middle class, and more than that, begin work that would help lift others up in my community.
In college, I double majored in economics and political science, graduating with honors from UT Tyler. My undergraduate research focused on the impact of student loan debt on millennial home ownership trends. I went on to became a Bill Archer Fellow at the U.S. Senate, working on disability policy on the H.E.L.P. Committee with the staff of Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Senator Harkin is famous for his contributions to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, and its later amendments. I am so very grateful to Senator Harkin for his groundbreaking work, helping those with disabilities return to our communities after so many decades of segregation and neglect.
After my time at the US Senate and after I graduated with my degree, I went to work for Chase Bank. A long story short, thanks to the Communication Workers of America union, I was fortunate to find a way out of corporate America. I began looking for the next thing shortly after beginning my job at the bank, and after 3 years of experience with various other lenders, I launched Mortgage on a Mission. We are a social enterprise, meaning that our goals are not just profitability but also doing the most good for our communities, and that includes making sure that our offers are the best, and raising awareness of the lingering problems in housing finance.
You can find more details about the current problems, as I see them, in mortgage lending in my essay below, which discusses the need for ethics in my industry: