Alumni Spotlight - Shelley Kerr

Shelley Kerr, ONB Automotive

Co-owner and accountant for ONB Automotive, Shelley Kerr relied on EvCC to help her learn the ropes of being a business owner. Having previously attended the college to learn accounting, Shelley worked from home and raised her sons. When the opportunity arose for Shelley and her husband to purchase the automotive repair business, Shelley turned to EvCC to further her business education through the college’s Small Business Accelerator program. “EvCC is a great way to get an education, both for past and future generations,” Shelley says. “You get a better education when you have smaller classes and I appreciate EvCC for making me a better business owner.”

Tell me about your family: where you grew up, and did you have brothers or sisters?

I grew up in Everett. My freshman year of high school, we moved to Mill Creek. My mom was a professional business woman and my dad was retired from the Air Force. My family taught me to be independent and keep getting up when life gets you down. I have one sister and three brothers. Having so many brothers has helped me build relationships with men, which comes in handy now that I am working with all men!

Did your parents go to college and did they encourage you to attend college?

My mother did, but not until later in life. She always stressed that you need a college education to be successful in business.

How did you choose EvCC? Was there a selection process involved in your decision making?

I waited about two years after high school to go to college. EvCC is a great college and close to home. They held classes at the times that worked for me.

Do you think your time at EvCC helped you pursue your current career? How?

Yes, it was very helpful. I went for accounting, but the business classes were the most helpful for me as a business owner today. I could do the accounting, but I never was good at writing letters in a professional matter. Business communication taught me that and more. 

What did you do after you left EvCC?

I worked for other companies doing accounting and office management. I was also a mom! My husband and I decided that raising our kids with one parent home was the most important thing in our life. Being an accountant, I could work from home. We wanted for me to be able to volunteer and to be active in our sons' lives as they grew up. I was a young mom and knew that I had time to stay at home, raise the boys, and then have time to resume my career, as long as I kept up on my education and kept current in my field. I took in clients to do bookkeeping, taxes, payroll and/or train spouses to do all the computer entry for their books and then oversee them by balancing their accounts and filing yearly and quarterly taxes. I was able to stay home with the kids and be involved with their school, their life and also work. This was the best of both worlds.

Did you ever envision your current career while in college? 

I knew I was going to do accounting for my career. I just didn’t know it would be for my own company.

What courses or activities did you find to be most valuable and how did they help prepare you for your professional career or success in life?

Now I still turn to EvCC for further education such as the Business Acceleration course that offered a day seminar on advertising and to significantly increase the growth of our business. I also like the fun classes at the college; I'd love to take a photography class this winter just for the fun of it.

Was there anyone during your time at EvCC who acted as a mentor for you? Tell me about that relationship and why it was valuable.

Yes, in my recent time with EvCC, Travis Snider. He has helped me in purchasing our business and how to set our goals and make them happen.

What is your lasting impression of EvCC?

Great college to get education at any time in life! My son is a student at EvCC just started his second year. I like that he can be at a college that you can actually talk with your professor if you need help. I think you get a better education when you have smaller classes.

What helped you stay motivated both in school, and in your career?

I am a motivated and self-disciplined person. When a goal is set, I have to achieve it. As a woman, I also wanted to make sure I could support myself and my family financially and education is the first step towards that.

Tell me about your current position or career.

My husband and I purchased ONB Automotive Repair in Everett, which is a company where he worked for 10 years. I run all the administration, advertising, accounting, and human resources work.

What do/did you find rewarding about it?

I get to spend my time with my husband all day. I can still arrange my time to fit our business and personal needs. I have been educated on car repair and new ways to advertise. I love to learn. Not being in the car repair business myself, I have learned so much..

What do/did you find most challenging?

Learning the car repair industry was all new to me: how much technology is in our cars today and how much the technicians need updated equipment and education. They don’t just need a tool box to work on your car. Also, advertising was a challenge; how to advertise and where to advertise. That’s another reason EvCC is so great. I could take classes to teach me this field. 

Would you do anything differently if you had the chance to do it all over again?

No, I don’t think so. My husband and I have raised two very hard working and successful young men. We have had hardship and unforeseen issues thrown at us in life and we have been blessed to have lots of great family and friends help us through those trying time. We have always landed on our feet..

What were your keys to success?

Keep up on your education and never give up. No matter what is thrown at you, you make the choice to let it define you or let it destroy you or you can let it strengthen you. I decided to let it strengthen me and that is the biggest key to my success.

What words of advice would you give to current EvCC students?

It's okay to change your mind. Just never give up. You may start EvCC thinking you want to get your degree in one subject and change your mind. Either way, get your basic classes out of the way and then you can go from there. Don’t ever give up, even if you can’t take a full schedule; just take what you can to get where you want to be. Keep up on education--it will help  you towards being successful in life

From this vantage point in life, what do you care about the most? Family, enjoying life, and giving. My family has always come first in my life! They bring me happiness and joy that I can’t get anywhere else. I love to laugh and have fun. So if I get to laugh and enjoy life every day, I feel very blessed! I have volunteered a lot over the years, but now I don’t have that much time, so I make sure we can give to breast cancer, wounded warriors, homeless vets and underprivileged kids. No child should go hungry. 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

My son,  Patrick, attends EvCC and is in his sophomore year, going for a bio tech degree. He has always been a good student and was a little nervous about how hard college was going to be. So, we are very happy that he can stay close to home and go to a college that helps him get everything in a smaller environment that he needs to advance in life. EvCC is great way to get an education both for past and future generations.