Between studying and socializing, students of Mesa High School can now add banking to their roster of on-campus activities. A classroom has been converted into Wells Fargo’s first branch located on a high school campus.
Although it doesn’t include an ATM, it is a full-service banking center with all the services offered at other Wells Fargo branches.
“This is the first ever fullservice community banking store on a high school campus (in Arizona) that we’re aware of,” said Deanna Villaneuva-Saucedo, community liaison with Mesa Unified School District and Mesa Community College.
“So far it’s been a huge success, but we’re going to let it develop and unfold. For Wells Fargo to be here and provide education on financial literacy and how you work your finances is a great opportunity for kids.”
Wells Fargo, the Mesa Public Schools Career and Technical Education Department, and the school’s Computer and Business Department developed the concept of opening a branch on campus.
Four 2006 graduates were hired and trained during the summer to work as regular employees of the branch.
Linda Highland is the branch manager and has been with Wells Fargo for 20 years.
“The challenge right now is letting everybody know we’re here, and going out and talking to the kids about finances and how we are here to support the school,” she said.
“They can learn how to use their accounts and save money, and start building their finances so when they do turn 18, they have a foundation. They’ll know how to balance a checkbook, how to use an ATM and how to succeed financially once they graduate from college.”
The branch attracts a steady crowd during the lunch hour with students interested in banking activities and employment opportunities with Wells Fargo, Highland said.
“We’ve done some auto loans for some of the students,” Highland said. “We have a teen access account, which is for teens 13 to 18 with their parents’ permission, and we’ve also been opening quite a bit of membership accounts (for students employed by Burger King, Target and other companies). Another thing we’ve found is there’s quite a few sophomores, juniors and seniors who already have accounts with Wells Fargo, so they’re coming in and opening additional accounts as well.”
Brad Meerfeld graduated from Mesa High in May and enjoys being back on campus as a personal banker.
“The reason I wanted to interview is I thought it was a great opportunity for me to deal with people because I love working with people,” he said. “I’ve worked at regular branches, too, and being on campus is a lot more fun because I get to interact with the younger crowd. . . . It’s just fun helping them and teaching them about things.”
Meerfeld said this is just the start of a career in banking.
“I want to get more into business banking,” he said. “I want to go to college and get a degree in business, and get into that area more.”