After earning a degree in mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Kristin Thompson Poelker ‘07 became a financial advisor and joined Renaissance Financial in the fall of 2011. In 2017, she became a certified financial planner. In addition to her work at Renaissance, Kristin has been recognized multiple times for her leadership and contributions to the St. Louis community. In 2013, she was inducted as a member of the Regional Business Council’s Young Professionals Network Leadership 100 and was selected to join the 2015-2016 class of the FOCUS Leadership St. Louis Program, where she joined other civic-minded business and nonprofit leaders from across the region in exploring issues such as economic development, education, social services, and the arts. In 2018, Kristin was recognized as a future leader in the area by being named a St. Louis Business Journal 30 Under 30 honoree. Kristin also stays active in her community as a board member for College Bound and the St. Louis County Library Foundation, organizations through which she hopes to help inspire the next generation and keep them on track for success.
Kristin has stayed connected to Whitfield as an unofficial, and now official, ‘07 Class Captain and is also a mentor to our Steward Scholars. Kristin’s brother, Michael Thompson, graduated from Whitfield in 2009.
How did Whitfield prepare you for college and beyond?
I learned how to problem-solve. No matter the class, I was encouraged to think for myself. My teachers pushed me through questions such as, “How would you argue ‘X’? How could you go about solving ‘Y’? What are the possible ways to address ‘Z’?” I use this skill every day.
I also wrote so much at Whitfield! From persuasive essays to research papers, I learned to write in different modes and for different purposes. As a math major, I can say that I was extremely well-prepared for whatever writing assignments I received.
In addition, I am so appreciative that I was introduced to such diverse novels that most of my friends did not read until college. As someone who did not read a lot in college due to studying math, I had these opportunities I could still connect to and draw upon in conversations.
Last, transferring to Whitfeld from public school as a freshman, I was able to question and develop my identity in a supportive environment. Discovering my identity led to self-confidence, which was so important when I went off to college. After attending Tufts for two years, I recognized that it was not the college for me, and I felt confident to transfer from Tufts to the University of Illinois-Champaign because of my personal growth and academic experiences at Whitfield. Not only that but Whitfield’s College Counseling team played an instrumental role in helping me figure out where I should go.
What were your primary interests and activities while you were at Whitfield?
I was involved in many clubs and activities, but there are a few that were my favorites. One was yearbook where I worked on designing the ad pages. I don’t consider myself very creative, but I had so much fun working with my classmates to create those pages. I also played field hockey and was a cheerleader. My teammates are still some of my best friends to this day. I learned the importance of physical activity to a healthy life and how good working out makes me feel. Last, I was an Ambassador for Admissions and was on Student Council for one year.
What skills do you use in your career that you began forming at Whitfield?
I definitely use my people skills every day! Whitfield taught me how to communicate effectively, to accept people of different beliefs and backgrounds, and to speak up for what I believe in. I am comfortable in diverse spaces. I also gained independence and figured out how to spend my time wisely. I was trusted, which encouraged self-discipline.
Describe your career. (What do you do? What has your journey been like? How does your career fulfill you?/What does your career fulfill in you? Where do you want to go from here? etc.)
I love being a financial advisor. It is a career that was not on my radar when I was in high school so I was taking a leap to start this path at 22. Now almost ten years later, I have seen how I can impact people’s lives by helping them save to buy a home or the amount of gratitude a person has when you navigate him/her through the death of a family member. I am so lucky to be fulfilled and enjoy what I do that the sky’s the limit at this point!
What are your hopes for Whitfield as a school?
I hope Whitfield continues to be a place where students know they will be heard and valued, where people want to learn more about each other and differing views. I hope Whitfield continues to foster problem-solving and independent inquiry in every child.
Kristin Thompson is a Registered Representative and Investment Advisor Representative of Securian Financial Services. Securities and Investment Advisory services offered through Securian Financial Services Inc. member FINRA/SIPC. Renaissance Financial is independently owned and operated. 5700 Oakland Avenue, Ste 400, St. Louis, MO 63110. 3212843 DOFU 08/2020