Sam Gelberger ’10, MCAA ’13 loves coaching people to their highest potential. That includes the swimmers and water polo players in the swim club she owns and operates. And this past year it also included Concordia student Alexa Jorgenson ’21 whose career in real estate Sam is helping to launch.
Their relationship began with the CUI Connect Mentor Program, which came into being last year.
“I got an email from the alumni office that said, ‘Would you be willing to be a mentor for a Concordia student interested in real estate?’ And I responded that I would, and they matched me with Alexa,” says Sam.
Sam earned her real estate license in 2014 and works at a Christian company called Regency, where they pray before company meetings and share uplifting stories and Bible passages to inspire the team. Regency is the top single-location office in Orange County, and has 200 agents.
Tamara Sauer ’02, MAOL ’18, CUI’s director of alumni and family relations, says CUI Connect was born out of current students’ desire to network and be mentored by alumni in their area of interest. Student and alumni participants agree to meet twice in person at events on campus, and have three to five digital interactions (such as texts or emails) between November and March about things like resumes, career paths and other advice.
Sam and Alexa met at a coffee shop, and beforehand Alexa says she “sat down and thought of all the questions I had about real estate. I knew from a class on management at Concordia that as a ‘mentee,’ I need to do a lot of work and take action to know what we want to know. So I came prepared to my meeting with Sam.”
Sam’s first impression was positive: “Alexa is sharp, she articulates well and is so personable,” Sam says.
Alexa had bounced from a biology major to exercise sports science before landing on marketing and management, but real estate had been in the back of her mind since she was ten years old. As a kid she always asked her parents to take her to open houses in the area on weekends.
In subsequent meetings, Sam helped Alexa understand which real estate classes to take to become licensed, and about different aspects of working with clients. “We bonded pretty much right away,” Alexa says. “I like how driven she is. She taught me all sorts of ways to get clients, right off the bat. I thought I could trust her.”
Soon Alexa was sitting in on Regency team meetings with Sam, and heading toward a career.
A SWIMMING EXPERIENCE
For Sam, it was a way of giving back to the university that launched her into her present careers as a real estate professional and swim club owner and coach. In high school, Sam was determined to swim and play water polo for a large state school, but she took a friend’s recommendation to tour Concordia Irvine. Loving what she saw, she brought five of her friends with her to become founding members of the CUI water polo team in 2007. Sam was the MVP of CUI in 2010, named an All-American in swim and water polo, and competed in the NAIA championships in breast stroke. Her most prized accolade is the 2012 NAIA Champions Of Character award.
“Water polo and swimming were my friend base in college,” she says. “You spent mornings, afternoons and evenings with your team. Everyone who graduated with me says the same thing: we wish we could go back and appreciate what we had. We had a fantastic time. Because I had such a good experience on Concordia’s teams, I wanted to pass that on.”
She became the owner of a swim team in Lake Forest, Power Aquatics, which operates in three pools. Sam has thirty employees and coaches several hours a night while conducting her real estate business in the day. She earned her Masters in Coaching and Athletic Administration form Concordia in Fall 2012.
“I have this amazing life, and it all started with Concordia Irvine,” she says. “That was the beginning of me getting into everything I’m in now.”
CUI Connect Mentor Program has helped Sam to support Concordia as an alumna. She likes that it allows students to preview job paths with a low amount of commitment.
“Students can look into three or four careers without having to go through long processes or commit to a job they don’t know about,” she says. “If they find something they like, they have a connection in that industry which can lead to a job opportunity or point them in the right direction.”
As her mentoring relationship with Alexa grew, they met each other’s families, and Sam guided Alexa through professional steps for licensing, learning contracts and marketing. Alexa even ran an open house for Sam.
“Going into the mentorship program, I thought it would be three meetings and I’d be done, just another networking opportunity,” Alexa says. “My expectation was completely exceeded. Sam has continued to help me and has included me in many meetings and open houses. Sam has shown me so much about real estate and I’ve stuck with it because of her. I’ve learned most of what I know about real estate through the CUI mentorship program.”
After she graduates, Alexa now has an open door to work for Sam at Regency.
“People need to know how great this mentoring program is,” says Alexa. “Any student in any major can do well with it if they’re paired with the right person and have the right questions.”