Swim When You’re Ready: English Teacher to Mortgage Lender

Mortgage and Lending with First Heritage Mortgage NMLS #: 938761

My First Career

I graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelor’s in English and a master’s in secondary English education (Go Wahoos!).  I had known since I was in high school that I wanted to be an English teacher.  You see, I was the little girl who was always reading.  I read so much, my parents often tried to get me to stop reading:

“Go outside and play, Whitney.  Stop reading!” 

“Whitney, you’re at the dinner table.  Put that book down and talk to us!”

I often would stay up until the wee hours of the morning to finish a good book, hiding this from my parents and reading under the covers with a flashlight. 

I actually liked diagramming sentences in middle school, and there was nothing I found more exciting than figuring out if a line of poetry was written in iambic pentameter or trochaic tetrameter. 

So, I became an English teacher, and I loved every minute of it.  I even taught English as a second language in China for a time period.  However, there was always a part of me who wanted to do more.  I always enjoyed working and becoming better and better at what I did, but, as you know, teachers are not paid based on their effort, expertise, or ability.  They are paid on their years of service which I found very frustrating at times.

To challenge myself, I started a summer program at the school where I worked.  And, guess what?  I made a pretty nice profit my first year.  The next year, I did even better.  I was hooked!  I was ready to try a different career, but I wasn’t quite sure what that career would be.  My mom was a realtor, so I had thought about selling real estate, but I remember how much she worked during evenings and weekends, and, with a one year old and an attorney for a husband who works many evenings and some weekends, I felt that real estate wouldn’t work for my family.

Tempted By Mortgage Lending

That’s when one of my colleagues starting telling me I should talk to her husband who opened the First Home Mortgage branch in Richmond, Va.  At first mortgages sounded super boring, but the more I learned about his business and the ability to make your business your own, the more interested I became. 

I put off making a decision for about six months.  I told myself it wasn’t for me.  How could I change from a career I love to something brand new?  How could I learn a new career while still learning to be a mom?  It just wasn’t the right timing for me.  What about all of those kids who wouldn’t learn how to diagram sentences or use MLA format properly?  Could I do that to the world?  (I kid. I kid.)

Joining First Home Mortgage As a Loan Officer

I really don’t know what exactly triggered it, but, one day I made up my mind and I have not looked back since.  I love my new job, and I will celebrate my two year anniversary in a few months.  Yes, I do work some evenings and weekends, but it is usually in the comfort of my own home on my laptop during my daughter’s nap time or after she has gone to bed.  I am so thankful for technology!

My favorite part is closing day, of course!  I remember how I felt when I received the keys to my first house.  It was so exciting and scary at the same time, so I like to be at the closings to answer any questions the borrowers have about paying their mortgage, setting up bi-weekly payments, etc.


I also am able to combine my love of reading and writing here on Active Rain and on my blog Loan Officer Lately.  And, who says I have to stop teaching?  I am teaching everyday—I teach realtors, borrowers, and, my own daughter!  She will be diagramming sentences in no time!

Comments (10)

Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Las Vegas, NV

Hello Whitney ... Some very interesting info about you, and quite the reader. Great story and your post has been featured to the group:



May 13, 2014 01:08 AM
Whitney Watson
First Heritage Mortgage - Henrico, VA

Thank for taking the time to read my story, VB! Thank you so much for the feature!

May 13, 2014 01:45 AM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Thank you so much for your English lesson.  As I've been reading your posts for a while now, I thought "WOW -- she writes so well" and since I'm always on the look out for good bloggers, I followed you.  NO WONDER!  Ms. Past Participle you!!  LOL

Thanks for your entry in the Swim When You're Ready contest for May.  Much appreciated <-------------- which is a fragment, HA HA HA

May 13, 2014 03:22 AM
Mike Rankin
ClearPath Mortgage Solutions, Inc. NMLS #1394615 - Albany, NY
Mortgage Consultant

Seems like a wise career transition for you. I'm glad it's working out for you and your family, that's a win-win right there! Not to mention, AR is a great place to be able to use your love for writing/reading!

May 13, 2014 05:31 AM
Whitney Watson
First Heritage Mortgage - Henrico, VA

Carla-I still love to teach whenever I get the chance :) Thank you for setting up this competition! I'm glad you've enjoyed my posts!

Mike-It has worked out so well. I feel right at home here at AR!

May 13, 2014 06:11 AM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Thanks for sharing your background. I also went to UVA, long before you. Commerce '58 and Law '61.


May 13, 2014 06:43 AM
Donna Foerster
HomeSmart Realty Group - Parker, CO
Metro Denver Real Estate Assistant

Whitney~ I've always enjoyed teaching but never made the commitment to it. I toyed with the idea in college and I've done some training in my careers and always loved it. Seeing the light bulb come on for someone else is invigorating. As a Realtor, I still get the opportunity, but not as often as I would like. Thanks for sharing your story!

May 14, 2014 02:03 AM
Whitney Watson
First Heritage Mortgage - Henrico, VA

Roy-What a fun fact to know about you! 

Donna-I still look for opportunities to teach. Maybe it's more of a mentoring type of thing, but others are still learning from us :)

May 14, 2014 06:54 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hi Whitney - ahhh, many lightbulbs are going on as I read this post --- I'd say your career is a perfect fit for you.   Nicely presented.   

May 14, 2014 05:55 PM
Whitney Watson
First Heritage Mortgage - Henrico, VA

Thank you, Michael. It has been a great fit!

May 16, 2014 03:21 AM

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