Campus involvement was key to success for Wichita couple
There are many parallels in the lives of Wichita State alumni Kris and Leslie Wessel.
They were both Jabara scholars. Both real estate majors. Before even graduating, they managed to get part- and full-time jobs in their field. And today, they’re both working as real estate agents in Wichita.
Oh, and they’re married to each other.
With such similar experiences, it’s not surprising that Kris and Leslie also agree on the most valuable part of their time at Wichita State: campus involvement.
“I’d say the biggest influence on my experience at WSU and success since would be being involved on campus while I was there, including on-campus housing, different organizations and our Greek system,” Leslie said. “Our best friends and quite a few of my clients still come from those connections that Kris and I wouldn’t have made otherwise.”
The student experience
Leslie graduated in 2006, and since then she’s worked for The Carnahan Group at J.P. Weigand & Sons Inc. Kris, who graduated in 2005, works for The Martens Cos. He started there when he was a junior and has been there since.
They’ve been married for seven years and have a 2-year-old son, Kasten.
There’s a bit of disagreement on where they met: Kris said it was at an event for Jabara Scholarship winners. Leslie said they first met as part of the same student organization, SIFE.
“I like to tease her, because I was apparently not too memorable the first time, and she does not remember our first introduction,” Kris said. “We met again through SIFE, and I was apparently more memorable the second time.”
Regardless, they said, it was more than just attending classes that made the difference.
Leslie is a big proponent of living on campus for at least a year. She lived in Fairmount Towers and Wheatshocker Apartments, and Kris lived in the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house.
“I think it is very important to be involved on campus,” Kris said. “Education is your purpose for being there, but the college experience is what makes you a whole person.
Taking part in the campus life opportunities is what helped Kris become a well-rounded person and not just a good student.
“I cured a lot of my shortcomings over those four years,” he said. “In my campus involvement, I met a lot of other students who didn’t fit into the same mold I did. You can learn a lot from someone who has different talents than you do.”
Also vital to their career success was the ability to find a related job in real estate while they earned degrees. It got their foot in the door of the industry, helped build their resume and gave them experience beyond the classroom.
It’s one of the benefits of going to college in an urban environment, Kris said.
“There are tons of degree-holding college grads out there, so it is important to have some kind of advantage over the other candidates,” he said. “In a city like Wichita, there are a lot of opportunities that you don’t get in a smaller college town.”
The job he had as appraisal assistant at The Martens Cos. was the perfect complement to his coursework, Kris said.
Midway through her junior year, Leslie got a job at Ritchie Development as a new home sales consultant assistant. She worked there until shortly after graduation.
She worked full time while taking classes at night.
“The position was key in giving me real estate sales and management experience, getting my Realtor’s license and a great stepping stone to where I am now.”