Melvin Branch used to roll the coins to make sure the bank had enough cash on hand. Now he oversees loans to make sure businesses have enough money on hand.

Branch, who graduated from Moraine Valley in the 1990s, worked his way from operating the coin machine and verifying account signatures to his current position as vice president of commercial banking for First Midwest Bank.

“I’ve been working in the banking industry since I was 14 years old,” Branch said. “I started with a high school work study program at Midlothian State Bank where my mom worked.”

After high school, Branch attended Tuskegee University, but his enrollment at the designated historic landmark campus in Alabama was cut short. “Financially, it just didn’t work out,” he said. He went back to work at the bank and was offered a chance for a promotion if he took computer science classes. Branch seized the opportunity and enrolled at Moraine Valley, a logical choice, he said, since he lived in Robbins.

Opportunity continues to knock for Branch, who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Governors State University. “I’m still in banking because I averaged one promotion every year or so. There’s always something new to learn.”