Alumni Spotlight Stories

Yuri - SCF Spotlight, Spring 2024

Following the American Dream - Spring 2024

Anne & Mike Fuller

Giving of their time, talent and treasure

When only 5 years old, Yuri Pereira’s parents decided to relocate from Brazil – where Yuri was born – to the United States. They moved to Bradenton, Florida 23 years ago.

They chose to come here after hearing stories about how the United States was a land of opportunity. So, they were, quite literally, following the American dream.

Yuri’s dad is a handyman, sort of a one-man show. Back in Brazil he had worked making cabinetry, and when the Pereira family arrived here, he would do odd jobs here and there, while he began fixing up their house, all of which led to his career as a handyman. When they moved here, Yuri’s mother was a stay-at-home mom, taking care of Yuri, who was an only child. Later, she began working. Back in Brazil she had been a pharmacist, and when she arrived in Bradenton, she got her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) license and began caring for the ill and elderly.

“We lived very close to the elementary school where I went, then I took a bus to middle school and attended Manatee High School, which was very close to where we lived,” Yuri said.

The family has a friend who works for Bank of America, who is also Brazilian, and he got Yuri’s parents thinking that banking might be a good career path for their son. “So, when I graduated from high school, I reached out and he helped me get a job as a teller at Bank of America when I was fresh out of high school. I really didn’t think I would be in banking that long, yet here I am – 10 years later,” Yuri said.

“After graduating from high school, I did not feel my family could afford to send me to a large university,” Yuri said. “We were a low-income household, and I did not want to end up tens-of-thousands of dollars in debt by going to an out-of-state school or one of the larger state universities.”

So, when he was still in high school, he started the dual-enrollment program at State College of Florida. As he finished high school, he had already earned most of the credits needed for his associate in arts (AA) degree from SCF.

“I majored in technology management at SCF. It was a new program at that time, which focused on a broader view of that field. I still didn’t know exactly what my career path was going to be, but I knew that a bachelor’s degree in technology management could help me in a number of different fields,” he said. “I especially loved the technology side, as I am a bit of a computer Geek, which included IT, coding and anything computer related. At one point, I was thinking about a career in computers, but by that time, I had become attached to the idea of banking as a career,” he said.

“Many of the required courses I took were management-related, as well, so that tied into the customer management skills that are required in a career in banking. And, of course, technology plays a major role in banking. Part of my job ended up being client computer installs, helping customers with their computer programs, and helping to install our software at the bank. So, I do feel that my time at State College of Florida prepared me very well for my career. It was a great experience that gave me all the tools I needed to move forward. The courses were interesting, as were the professors. And, it was incredibly affordable, so I didn’t have to go into massive amounts of debt to finish my education,” he said.

Yuri says it was also helpful that it was local, so he could continue to live with my parents while in school, which also helped him save even more money. Yuri also participated in SCF’s online school in his final year, which gave him the flexibility to work full-time while in school.

Between working and going to school, Yuri said he had little time left for outside activities. Though SCF offered many opportunities – theater, sports, music, etc. – he says he stayed focused on getting his degree.

“I was still working in banking the entire time I was in school at SCF, first at Bank of America and then Wells Fargo for a couple of years, and then, after a hiatus of a couple of years, at ServisFirst Bank, where I have been for the last five years,” he said.

Yuri said he was impressed from the beginning with ServisFirst, as it was an avenue for him to get into commercial banking, which is what he had ultimately wanted to do. “I was able to rise so quickly, because I kept my nose to the grindstone and was rewarded for that work,” he said.

ServisFirst Bank was founded in 2005 in Birmingham, Alabama, and by 2023 had amassed $16 billion in total assets. Today it has branches in Florida, Alabama and North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. It is a full-service commercial bank that offers treasury management products, internet banking, home mortgage lending, remote deposit express banking, international banking, and highly competitive rates.

Today, Yuri has worked his way up to assistant vice president, but in August of this year will become a vice president. Yuri’s parents have bought a new home, and Yuri and his wife, Emily, whom he met while both of them were working at Wells Fargo, live in his childhood home, and are expecting their first child – a girl – in July of this year.

Anne and Mike Fuller, both of whom are wealth management advisors for Northwestern Wealth Management Company, were married in 1997 and today live in Bradenton, where they are both avid supporters of State College of Florida.

 

Anne is a native Floridian, while Mike was raised in northern Virginia and graduated from the University of Georgia before moving to Florida. It was while vacationing here with his parents that he decided the Gulf Coast would be a great place to live. Anne attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and then moved back home to also work at Northwestern Wealth Management Company in Bradenton.

 

The two met through their work at Northwestern. Michael and Anne would both attend monthly meetings up in Tampa, and at the very first meeting Michael attended, he noticed this beautiful woman sitting next to him. That was more than 26 years ago, and since then they married, founded Weichel-Fuller Financial LLC, under the Northwestern Wealth Management Company umbrella, and had three sons.

 

Anne is the daughter of John and Evalyn Weichel, both deceased. John was well-known for his charitable giving in Bradenton and received the Manatee Community Foundation’s Lifetime Spirit of Manatee Award. He gifted nearly $200,000 to the State College of Florida Foundation, which included a major capital gift to the SCF Lakewood Ranch Center for Innovation and Training building, a gift that has been vital to developing the technological workforce in the region. 

 

Mike is a great believer in the value of education, having started his own education in the community college system at Northern Virginia Community College, where Dr. Jill Biden teaches today. 

 

“Volunteering doesn’t have to have a specific return on investment. Some things you do just because they are the right thing to do,” he said. For both he and Anne, education became a focus of their philanthropy because, as he said, “Education is key to so many things. If you educate someone to the point that they can provide for themselves and their families, imagine how many other social ills you have just solved – homelessness, addiction, drugs and the list goes on and on. It was a natural thing for Anne and I to partner together in support of SCF and the people in this community,” he said.

 

Mike began volunteering at SCF by chairing the asset management committee. He joined the SCF Foundation’s Board of Directors, was president of that, and then was asked to serve on the SCF Board of Trustees, and as the SCF Trustee Liaison on the SCF Foundation Board of Directors. 

 

Together, the Fullers have supported a number of SCF events and initiatives, including the Annual Scholarship Luncheon, Avenue to the Future (SCF Bradenton), Evening Under the Stars (SCF Venice), Music Excellence Sponsorship, the SCF Disaster Recovery Fund (helping those Impacted from Hurricane Ian & Nicole), SCF Student Scholarships, the SCF Studio for the Performing Arts Capital Building Project and SCF Area of Greatest Need Initiatives Aligning with Presidential Priorities. In addition, they take part in an annual Northwestern Mutual match, whereby employees of Northwestern are encouraged to support non-profit organizations and the company matches their contributions.

 

“Schools such as SCF are important because they are affordable, provide a high-quality education, and they allow young people to take advantage of opportunities that would be much more difficult to obtain if they were going out-of-state or to a larger university,” Anne said. Mike agreed, adding, “SCF is also the only school in our region that gives students a full college experience – from academics to clubs, sports and the arts. You don’t miss out on anything at SCF,” he said.

Alumni Questions & spotlight opportunties?

Please contact Madeline Mangas at 941-752-5336 or MangasM@SCF.edu for more information on Alumni questions and opportunities.

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