Crystal Sveen talks about her life and what led to her position at Wells Fargo in Dodge Center.
Photo by Ruth Hanson
by Ruth Hanson
Crystal Sveen, the new branch manager of the Wells Fargo Bank in Dodge Center, prefers small towns.
"In tragedy and in good times, they come together," she said. "That's part of why I like this job and this small community. It was annoying and a blessing when everybody in town pretty much knew where I was when I was growing up in Elgin. That is a town you miss if you blink on the way through."
She was born in California. Her parents were in the Army and they moved to Germany, where they spent two years. Her parents divorced and she and her mother came back to Lake City to live with her parents.
"My mother and my step father met at a Subway," Sveen said. "He raised me as one of his own. We moved to Elgin when I was five. I went to the Elgin-Millville School and to Plainview-Elgin-Millville as a senior."
Her sister is 13 and a cheerleader at PEM. Her brother is 15 and plays basketball there.
Sveen started working at Best Buy when she was 16. She took military leave from Best Buy to join the Marines. She went to Boot Camp at Paris Island, expecting to spend three months there, but she got a severe stress fracture in one leg and chose to spend five months there and graduate. Her mother and grandparents went to the graduation.
"My grandfather had tears in his eyes at my boot camp graduation," she said. "It was a very emotional time for them. She was saying goodbye to her baby, her first born. I like to think I am her favorite. She is one of my best friends."
Sveen looks back and says that being in the Marines was a fantastic experience.
"I learned leadership skills," she said. "I gained a whole new appreciation of the world. I learned how to respect, to be more patient and to appreciate life more."
She saw busloads of Marines come home with empty seats.
"I joined the Marines in 2007, right after 9/11,which was technically war time," she explained. "I have an honor badge because of that. I have quite the bond with fellow Marines."
Men and women were segregated in the barracks, but they fought side by side.
"I think the new rule, that men and women fight side by side in combat, is fantastic," she said.
As a civilian, she started as a teller at Wells Fargo on 55th Street in Rochester and worked there for a year. She was asked to go to bankers' training, but decided she couldn't because she was a single mom with a small baby.
"But my boss wouldn't give up," she said. "He pushed me. Jill Moosbrugger, who is a service manager here, was my boss for a little while. She helped mold my future. All my managers did something for me and I thank them for that."
After a year as a teller, she became a banker. She spent four weeks commuting to Faribault during January, "but I didn't go in the ditch." She learned how to open and close accounts, and to help with CDs and IRAs. She wa trained to be a business banker and to do consumer banking. She was in that position for a year and five months.
"Then I applied for a position as branch manager at Dodge Center," she said. "I started in June of 2012. I like it here because I like people."
She still has customers from Rochester who call her and she says she misses them.
"It is flattering that they call," she said. "Some are business calls, some personal. They trust me with one of the most personal things in their lives - their finances. They know that I am taking time out of my busy day to make sure their needs are being met. It is comforting for them and I enjoy doing that."
Life has changed for Sveen. Her grandfather died of cancer nine months after being diagnosed.
"That wasn't easy for me," she said.
Her son Jayden is four years old.
"I know it's a cliché, but I look at every day as a gift," she said. "I take it day by day."
Her fiancé, Paul, is a paraprofessional who works with elementary children with behavioral problems in a Rochester school.
She said she adores her Dodge Center staff.
"I am especially grateful to Jean Henslin, who stayed on after she nearly gave me a heart attack by giving me her notice just two days after I started," Sveen said. "She stayed on for three or four months longer than she had planned - until I could get this place fully staffed and I had my feet on the ground. Jean had faith in me. These people are an amazing staff. And Jill is now my partner in crime."
Her fiancé, Paul, is a paraprofessional who works with badly behaved elementary children in a Rochester school.
"My goal for me and this bank is to become part of the community so people see us as part of the community," she said. "I want to specially thank my day care mom for making my life a lot easier. My hours are sometimes a little longer than we expect."