SANTA FE, N.M. – When the real estate market crashed in 2007, Staff Sgt. Emily Ferreira felt the devastating effects first hand.
As a real estate agent in the Southern California area, Ferreira had been immensely successful, making a good living in the industry.
But seemingly overnight the housing bubble imploded and Ferreira lost everything.
Now 11 years later Ferreira has turned her life around, thanks in part to the U.S. Army, where she works as a recruiter for the Santa Fe Recruiting Station, Albuquerque Recruiting Company, as part of the Active Guard Reserve program.
Ferreira, a native of Rowland Heights, Calif., said she was both a real estate agent and a full time student in pursuit of a business degree, when things took an unexpected turn.
“When the market crashed I lost $80,000 worth of commissions in one day,” Ferreira said. “It was a rough day – I had 30 homes in escrow that I was about to close on.”
This derailed a promising career for Ferreira, who had to bounce back from this demoralizing set of circumstances.
“It was pretty bad … I had to move back in with my parents which was really hard,” she said. “I had to pull myself back and start over. I applied for a lot of jobs and the only place that would hire me was Disneyland.”
Ferreira said potential employers considered her overqualified and were certain she would leave to go back to real estate once the market improved.
“I knew that was going to take years, so I never considered it,” Ferreira explained. “While I was at Disneyland I studied and got my EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) license, which I finished top of my class at.”
However things conspired to stop Ferreira in her tracks yet again, once again by issues beyond her control.
“There was a budget crisis in California and they started laying off a lot of firefighters,” she continued. “All the experienced firefighters took the EMT jobs, including mine.”
Following this setback, Ferreira needed a new plan and some luck. One of her friends had recently joined the Army and suggested it to Ferreira, who said it was a good option for her to pay off her student loans.
“He told me about the student loan repayment program, money for college and other benefits,” Ferreira said. “I had so many things in my life out of my control that I decided to join. At least with this job I knew I couldn’t be fired unless I was solely to blame.”
Ferreira initially signed up for the Army Reserve and headed to basic training at the age of 25, with her military occupational specialty being a human intelligence collector.
After six years in the reserve, Ferreira decided she wanted to be in the Army full time, especially as an instructor in her chosen MOS, prompting her to submit an AGR packet.
Instead Ferreira said she was offered a position as a recruiter, which she decided to accept.
“I figured if I could help keep students from getting student loans and making the same mistakes I made, I would be making a difference in their lives,’ she said.
“It was a big change for me however and what I was used to doing in the reserve didn’t apply anymore – I couldn’t interrogate anyone and I had to be nice to them,” Ferreira joked.
Ferreira said she’s adapted to recruiting after almost two years in the role and doesn’t find being a female hinders her role.
“I tell people if I can do it, anyone can do it. I’m a tiny five foot three female and here I am,” she said. “I’ve actually put more males in this year than females.”
Ferreira said the Santa Fe recruiting market can be challenging due to location and economics, but she remains constantly motivated to do her job and keep improving.
“The opportunity to change people’s lives and give these kids different options to achieve their potential motivates me,” Ferreira said. “Lots of the females I talk to out here want to be nurses, while the males want to be firefighters or welders. I want them to realize there’s other ways to achieve these goals and the Army is one of them, without having to incur student loans or debt.”
“Having a degree and Army experience will help them when they enter the civilian sector; they just don’t realize it until I talk to them about it,” Ferreira said. “Then they realize what a huge benefit it could be.”
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