Jun. 5—Growing up in her family's Columbus home with three older brothers,
"She learned how to compete at an early age with those boys. She had to learn how to be a fighter," recalled her father,
Raitt took that advice to heart. Growing up, she was working at Hy-Vee, The Buckle, as a lifeguard or mowing lawns while competing in athletics and staying on point with her schoolwork, among other things. She graduated from
Raitt is living what she calls "her best life." Just a couple of months ago, she became the marketing director and VRLY representative (a 3D/virtual reality scanning tool in real estate) for kwElite Realty and the
"I love it here at
Raitt's shift in attitude toward Columbus is a complete 360 from what she thought as a kid approaching fourth grade when her parents told her they were moving the family back to town. The family had been living in
"I absolutely loved (
It's not that she had a bad childhood — she had a "great" one. When she wasn't just hanging out with her friends, Raitt invested her time in sports throughout her years at
It was also very important to her to be independent from a young age. She learned this from her parents, noting how her father has had a successful insurance business for years.
"I grew up in that entrepreneur household. He was always building something to provide for us, always on the road to provide a good life for us," she said. "We were very blessed."
Her dad also made sure all his kids were told the same thing.
"I told them to learn how to achieve and to not expect anyone to give you anything," he said.
Raitt heard the message loud and clear. She took on various jobs throughout her youth as a way to make money and start working toward her goals.
"I am the way I am because I wanted to be able to provide the life I want ... all the experiences I want, and I don't want to rely on someone else to do that," Raitt said. "My end goal was I knew I wanted a specific lifestyle. I just did not want to count on another person to provide that for me. I wanted to be independent.
"I knew where I wanted to go, and I didn't think Columbus could offer me that."
So she left. Raitt decided to go to the
Raitt, who from
Raitt had initially thought she would go work for her dad at one of his insurance offices in
"When it rains, it pours," Raitt said, with a laugh, about doing all three at once. "I always tell myself to be brave enough to be bad at something new. I'm always challenging myself to be uncomfortable."
Her efforts paid off as Raitt earned a promotion in
"Any time that we can get an alum from any of our three schools back to Columbus is always a good thing," said Anderson, who coached Raitt in volleyball when she was in high school. "Shannon is outgoing, personable, she's a hard worker and always does everything to completion ... I knew she had the skills."
Mueller said she was interviewing other serious candidates when Anderson brought up Raitt. Mueller and Raitt eventually got to talking about the opportunity, and the broker said it became obvious Raitt's path mirrored her own. Mueller had sworn off returning to Columbus upon high school graduation for big-city living only to return and make a name for herself years later. She said she now loves living in
"Attitude is not something you can train, and she has a great attitude," Mueller said. "She's very upbeat, plus she has a lot of experience. I wanted to find someone familiar with Columbus and she is ... I think it's a big win for Columbus."
Although hesitant when she was first contacted, Raitt said she decided to discuss the job with Mueller because she believes it's important to not pass up an opportunity that comes your way. The conversations with Mueller were eye-opening, she noted.
"There are so many things I didn't know were happening in my hometown," she said, noting projects like the ice skating rink and housing developments. "I never thought Columbus would offer me what I wanted to do. But really, there are many opportunities and people just don't always know about them. There are places for young professionals here."
Raitt said she plans to be active in the community, adding that she thinks there is so much potential for her to be involved with things like boards for local nonprofits.
But her priority is helping her hometown continue to blossom into a destination for young people so that they want to be here and return home — not run away from it. She has applied that fighting spirit she found years ago as a little girl competing against her older brothers to changing people's perceptions of the area. She wants people to think of Columbus in a positive light rather than just "that place", as she referred to it as a child.
"If we get people to stop saying that, then I think we've done our job. Columbus really does have a lot of the things I was using in
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