ALAMOSA — First Southwest Bank Senior Vice President Delzia Worley shared her personal story of overcoming obstacles at Adams State University on Wednesday as part of the regular Lean In Lunch events. Inspired by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg's book of the same name, the series is meant to motivate women in the workplace.
"We hold ourselves back in ways big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands and by pulling back when we should be leaning in," said Worley quoting Sandberg.
Throughout the presentation Worley shared quotes from both Sandberg and others as she discussed chapters of her life and role models.
"The quotes really help me readjust my attitude," she said, explaining why they are also common in her social media feeds.
The Valley native lost her grandfather and father within a year of her birth, leaving her mother to care for her and her four siblings while simultaneously managing the family farm.
"At that point in my mom's life, she had to lean in," Worley said. "That's the strong role model I had in my life."
When she was 8 they moved from Center to La Jara to live with her grandmother. "I had two moms, so sometimes you had two bosses, but that was okay because it added a really strong role model in my life."
Though she initially didn't like the transition, she discovered having friends across the Valley is a valuable asset. Worley said that it was important to share one's story with others and form a community.
"You don't want to create a legacy for your family and friends that you can't be proud of. Our kids and others learn from us and we want to be proud of that. People around us can be strengthened by our story even though it’s different."
Worley's mother, who attended ASU, convinced her daughter to do the same. She had a dream of becoming a mortician but then her grandmother talked her into switching majors to banking, an industry Worley has been in since 1997. By the end of her freshmen year she was pregnant, working two jobs and had low grades.
"It was fun, but there was also points were I just wanted to throw in the towel and quit," said Worley. "School was hard and it was hard to balance all of this. I remember my mom saying 'Don't quit, because if you quit you're not going to go back and if you do it's going to be twice as hard.' I'm really glad that I didn't quit and that I pushed through and leaned in and got the education that I got."
Her grades improved, Worley graduated in four years, and she got a job as a teller at First National Bank of Alamosa. However, she still worked at McDonald's and the movie theater because the bank didn't pay enough. Disillusioned, she wanted to quit. Her mom told her to stay, and the following year a position in the loan department opened up. Since then she has been climbing her way up and now Worley currently has the largest portfolio of loans in the bank.
While working at the bank a colleague introduced her to the Kiwanis International service club, which she has been involved with for 20 years. Worley then worked at the Alamosa County Chamber of Commerce and became a part of the Small Business Development Advisory Board and the Alamosa County Economic Development Corporation Board.
"We are here to make this community better, whether we grew up here or moved here," said Worley. "My goal has been to give back to our community, make it stronger with economic development and support fresh ideas."
Additionally, Worley has served on the Adams State Alumni Board of Directors. "Adams State gave me a ton, set me up to succeed, so I feel that's a small piece I can give back to our community and Adams State," she said.
Besides her mother and grandmother, two influential role models are her husband and son. When she was still working multiple jobs, her 9-year-old son got injured in an accident while playing with his cousins. It was discovered that one of his eyes would need to be removed and replaced with a prosthetic.
Because the bank was in a conversion period between owners, Worley couldn't take off work and was concerned that she couldn't be there for him as he recovered.
"He told me 'Mom, just go to work. You need to be there.' What was really incredible was the strength that he showed and I wanted him to know that nothing would hold him back."
Finding strength in a life partner is also important to Worley. In 2006 her fiancé passed away. She thought she was going to stay single but a friend set her up on a blind date and she met her husband.
"Having the right partner is very important. Leaning in and learning together are fun."
Worley ended the presentation with one final Sandberg quote. "The more women help one another, the more we help ourselves. Acting like a coalition truly does produce results," she said.
The next Lean In Lunch event is on September 26 at the Adams State University Student Union Building in rooms 127-130. Audrey Reich Loy, the co-founder and former organizer of the Lean In Lunch program, will be presenting.