Finding Inspiration at Alaska Housing

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Grants Administrator Brenda Vu approaches each day as a new opportunity to learn. It’s a mindset that has led her on a meaningful career journey at Alaska Housing Finance Corporation over the last two and a half years.

When Brenda began a temporary role at AHFC during Alaska Housing Rent Relief, she had just left a pre-nursing program after realizing the medical field wasn’t for her and had recently become a new mom. She said she had no business experience and didn’t know what she wanted for her future, “I just knew I needed a job in order to provide for my child.”

Assisting Alaskans

As a temporary employee, Brenda worked in the call center and later in the Systems Integrity Unit,  evaluating complicated applications. 

“Everyone was struggling at that time,” Brenda said. “I knew I had to do my best to help.”

There are phone calls she said she will always remember, such as celebrating with a landlord after he successfully attached documents to an email for the first time, or crying with a young mother who had just lost her child.

“Calls like these inspired me to look for more opportunities to learn so I could help more people. Until I started working at Alaska Housing, I struggled to believe that I could really do something, I had to change my mindset.”

- Brenda Vu, Grants Administrator, AHFC

Finding Inspiration

She credits her supervisors and co-workers with helping her to imagine new possibilities.

“Chelsea Arthur, my supervisor in the SIU, was so encouraging,” Brenda said. “She helped me make it this far. She’s the kind of supervisor I want to be someday.”

Inspired by Chelsea, Brenda began to apply for positions that would continue after her time as a temporary employee ended. 

Holly Rutka in Human Resources shared her own story of starting out as a temporary employee and working her way up through multiple positions at AHFC,” Brenda recalled. “After hearing her perspective I thought, ‘That could be me someday. I just have to get my foot through the door.’”

Growing A Career

From the call center, Brenda was promoted to program relief support, then planner assistant and eventually grants administrator. She is candid that she applied for roles that she did not get, but this motivated her to keep asking questions and growing her skill set. 

“There was never a day when I stopped learning. If you treat each day as a chance to learn, who you are today is not who you’ll be next year.”

- Brenda Vu, Grants Administrator, AHFC

“Everyone in the Planning department has been so welcoming and understanding, which has been a major part in my transition to a grants administrator,” she said. “My director continues to remind us that it’s okay to make mistakes, that is how we learn. I am inspired every day by the people I work with. They make going to work enjoyable.”

Continuing Her Education

Brenda still hasn’t lost her drive to continue learning. She is working on her associate degree in business management and wants to tackle a bachelor’s in business administration.

“In the long run, I want to work in human resources and human services,” Brenda said. “I would love to help people in the same position I was in a few years ago – people who are looking for a meaningful career.

Reflecting on Her Journey

Brenda said she can become emotional when she thinks about how far she has come since March 2021.

“I didn’t have a job or know where I was going in life, I didn’t have a way to support my baby,” she said. “When I stepped foot at AHFC, I felt that this was my purpose. I wanted to help other Alaskans. That changed everything for me.”

Interested in exploring a career at Alaska Housing? Visit our website and view open positions.