Time spent with her grandparents showed GEICO AVP Sheryl Weldon the meaning of family

FREDERICKSBURG, Va., Sept. 15, 2020For GEICO Assistant Vice President Sheryl Weldon, the road to success was paved by unconditional support and love from her family. "Mi casa es su casa," a simple, but meaningful, philosophy passed down from her grandparents, has been Weldon's common thread throughout her life and keeps her tied to her roots. Read Sheryl's story, as told by her:

They call New Mexico the Land of Enchantment, and that always feels appropriate to me. I grew up in Albuquerque, alongside my two brothers and younger sister. I think that we would each tell you that we had enchanting childhoods that included the backdrop of the Sandia Mountains, an annual Balloon Fiesta and close proximity to grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

My maiden name is Ramirez. I come from two different backgrounds and cultures; my father is Hispanic and my mother is White. The life they made together is all I have ever known and has given me a unique perspective of seeing the world through a few different lenses. Frankly, there have been times in my life where I have not exactly fit into either side of who I am. I wasn't enough of one, or the other, or so I was told or felt. The interesting thing that I continue to learn and be reminded of is that there is not a definition of being "enough," and for that I am grateful. I can only share my experiences and live my life from the vantage point that I have been given, and that is enough.

Growing up, my paternal grandparent's house was a second home to me. "Mi casa es su casa" was a way of life. In their home, all were welcome, and every family gathering was a party. In classic New Mexican tradition, red and green chile accompany most meals and warm tortillas are readily available. There was music playing, sometimes by a live mariachi band, and every now and then, there were piñatas for the children.

The holidays included glowing luminarias lighting the driveways and front porches. When I was younger, my birthday always came with a call or visit by my Abuelita and Abuelito, whom we affectionately nicknamed Ita and Ito, and them singing "Las Mañanitas" to me. I can't always recall what gift I received as a kid, but I can distinctly remember them singing that song to me. To this day, that is how every birthday starts in my own home.

I began my GEICO journey as an entry-level claims examiner, with a handful of college credits. My career goal was to become a senior claims examiner and keep working on my degree. At the start of my GEICO story, my husband, Jerry, (who is also a GEICO employee) and I welcomed our son and daughter. It is only appropriate to state that my GEICO story is a shared story. Jerry and our two kids have each been unflagging in their support. When the kids were younger, Jerry and I would work opposite shifts to try and minimize day care expenses.

We would also conduct a very scientific version of rock/paper/scissors to determine who would stay home if one of the kids was sick. Together, we developed a system in our schedule that allowed me to take college courses at night and on the weekends. I would study in the early morning hours while my kids were still asleep. When I finally graduated with my degree, I put my kids in caps and gowns, too. I felt like we had all earned it together. If there is one thing that I learned from my college experience, it is that you never regret furthering your education. I encourage all who are interested in pursuing higher levels of learning to go for it. It may not be easy, but it is always worth it.

Our family has moved several times in our GEICO journey. Each of those moves has brought us closer together because we have had to rely on one another until our new area became home and we made new friends. I am reminded every time of my Ita and Ito's words of wisdom, "Mi casa es su casa."

Making a house a home happens as new memories are made, new friends are welcomed over and, for me, I am able to find which grocery store sells the appropriate green and red chile. In all of our moves, Jerry has always made sure that at every holiday there are luminarias lighting our driveway and porch. He even made it happen for me during the years that we lived in Buffalo, New York. That was no small feat when the snow drifts were a few feet high and the lighted luminarias were gingerly placed on top.

Although we are far from the Land of Enchantment these days, it is always with me.

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