Cathy Jansen remembers August 11, 2001 like it was just yesterday.
“I remember standing there, crying like a baby looking out at my son, my husband, my nieces, my sister and parents” said Cathy. “I was so proud of what I had accomplished and knew they were too.”
August 11th was graduation day at Carolina. With a diploma in hand and the “2001” song playing over the loud speaker, Cathy knew her life would be different now.
And different was something Cathy needed when she first came to Carolina in 1999. At age 35, she was happy personally but wanted more professionally. Her associate degree in Accounting was failing to live up to her earlier dreams of working in a fast-paced, engaging career. A job that gave her the opportunity to lead others and also make a difference in the local community. A job that wasn’t really a job at all, but a passion.
“I decided accounting wasn’t that,” said Cathy. “So I left my job and moved to Columbia with my husband and son. That’s how I ended up at USC.”
Cathy started off in the Journalism School, pursuing a career in public relations and marketing. But after only two semesters she was forced to re-evaluate her plan.
While my experience is different than the majority of students attending USC, my goal was the same: to find a solid career that I could be proud of and prosper in. I know my degree made a difference in where I am today.
– Cathy Jansen
“I was facing another three years of school. Meanwhile my family was moving further and further into debt. I wanted more for us and I wasn’t 100 percent sure PR was going to get me there. To be honest, I was a bit lost at the time.”
That’s until Cathy met USC professor Don Stowe. Professor Stowe headed up the university’s program in Interdisciplinary Studies, a degree offering focused on adult learners and non-traditional Gamecock students like Cathy.
“My life changed right then and there,” said Cathy. “Professor Stowe helped me find my way at USC. He encouraged me to apply for a scholarship, and he worked with me to create a schedule where I could take classes at night and work full time during the day.
“He also focused my career goals and showed me how USC could help me get there through its BAIS program (Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies). He gave me great advice. I ended up taking several Human Resource Management courses that have been invaluable in my career path.”
Soon after graduating in 2001 Cathy began working her way up the corporate ladder in the banking industry. Now as the City President of Regions Bank, Cathy oversees four branch offices in Columbia for Regions Financial Corporation, a bank with $122 million in assets and 1,700 banking offices in 16 states.
She leads the consumer and small business services where a typical day has her engaging in the bank’s day-to-day business operations, but also talking with customers and bank associates.
“That’s really where my passion is,” said Cathy, “Building lasting relationships. I love seeing my clients on the street or stopping by their businesses. I’m always proud when one of my clients introduces me as their banker.
“I also have a drive for success and I love to see my associates excited when they do something good. We celebrate a lot of things – big and small.”
With financial stability and a job that she truly loves, Cathy says she’s now focusing on her work/life balance.
“There are never enough hours in the day. But you have to find time for the things that really matter,” said Cathy.
For Cathy, those things include her husband, her son and her community. She is active with the Kiwanis Club, makes weekly visits to a local nursing home and is a board member of Spring Valley Presbyterian Church where she also sings with the contemporary band. Cathy visits the Carolina Campus regularly and just recently served as a business mentor for students at USC’s Darla Moore School of Business.
“While my experience is different than the majority of students attending USC, my goal was the same: to find a solid career that I could be proud of and prosper in. I know my degree made a difference in where I am today.
“It’s a great time to be in banking and it’s a great time to be a Gamecock!”