(L to R): Erica Preston & Natalie Bartholomew

A friendship developed through GSBC in 2013, two Arkansas community bankers find each other in Colorado! Read Natalie Bartholomew’s and Erica Preston’s story of friendship (written by Natalie Bartholomew, CAO/VP, Grand Savings Bank, Arkansas):

“When I attended GSBC in 2013 as a 1st year student I was complacent in my banking career. While I was honored with the opportunity to attend banking school, I wasn’t 100% positive that banking was in my long term career goals. I was even considering teaching high school finance!

Leading up to my first session, I volunteered to coordinate the Arkansas State Dinner and as fate would have it, so did Erica Preston, another Arkansas community banker attending GSBC as a first year student. Erica emailed me and suggested we meet in advance for lunch to start planning the dinner and to get to know each other. During that dinner, we found out that we had so much in common: both were career bankers, both had a 3 year old son, and both had selected GSBC based on the July schedule. We also reached out to GSBC about rooming together, given we didn’t really know anyone else going and thought it would be much better for the both of us to “get through the two week general session.”

Little did we know that our time at Graduate School of Banking Colorado would be the beginning of an incredible friendship. It’s rare to forge a friendship as a busy, working mom! We coordinated the Arkansas State Dinner all 3 years and traveled to Colorado together our second and third years. Our view of GSBC changed from “getting through it” it to “I want to come here every year!”. Since our initial meeting at a Ruby Tuesday in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Erica and I have become the best of friends. We have taken multiple trips together, coached each other through job changes, and have been each other’s greatest supporters. In my 19 years of banking, I can’t think of a greater mentor, support system, or advocate than Erica. She has kept me laughing since we met in 2013 and she’s easily one of the sharpest community bankers I know. I’m forever grateful to GSBC for bringing us together.”

This story is an installment in GSBC’s “Celebrate 70” campaign, which aims to engage the school’s students, alumni, faculty and supporters in a year-long commemoration of its history, accomplishments and traditions.

Join the Celebration