Tammy Trefny

  • Opportunities at Morton College allow Trefny to strike right balance

    For Tammy Trefny, Morton College was a place where she could sort things out and navigate her future course.

    The Cicero native was successfully able to balance academics, athletics and a part-time job, which provided an entry to her first full-time job out of college.

    “I debated going away as a freshman, but decided to stay home and determine what direction I wanted to go,” said Trefny, a senior account manager for customer engagement at Fannie Mae. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do. From a personal and maturity standpoint, it was really a great move to stay home and go to Morton College.”

    Trefny played basketball and softball at Morton College, where she graduated with an associate’s degree in business administration in 1986. She was all-conference in both sports and received all- Skyway Academic Athlete honors. In addition, Trefny worked 15 to 20 hours a week at a Walgreens store in Cicero.

    Women’s athletics at Morton College had been around for less than 10 years when Trefny was a student-athlete. Getting five together for the basketball team was sometimes a struggle.

    "...Morton College was a place where she could sort things out and navigate her future course."

    “There wasn’t a lot of interest in women’s basketball at the time,” recalled Trefny, who graduated from Morton East High School. “We had a small team, but we played our hearts out. I give the school a lot of credit for supporting us.”

    Trefny also discovered support in the classroom to help her overcome her fear of math, a necessity heading into the business world.

    “I had Betty Guyer for a finite math/statistics class,” Trefny said. “I hated math, but she was the teacher who made it easier to understand and not so scary.”

    Trefny decided to transfer to Lake Forest College. Her sister, Sue, was the coach of college’s softball team. Plus, Trefny had researched Lake Forest’s business curriculum and she thought it was a great program. In addition, Trefny could keep working part-time at Walgreens as she was able to go from a store in Cicero to one in upscale Lake Forest.

    The Trefny sisters enjoyed success on the softball field at Lake Forest, an NCAA Division III school. In Tammy’s senior year, the Foresters tied for the regular-season conference champion and won the league’s postseason tournament. She also was an all-conference selection at pitcher.

    “I wanted to play softball and I didn’t have any scholarship opportunities,” Trefny said. “Plus, I was able to work around school and sports.”

    Trefny remembers either business or computers as the popular career paths for people coming out of college in the 1980s.

    “Computers really didn’t captivate me,” said Trefny, who earned a degree in Business Administration from Lake Forest. “In business, there were unlimited possibilities.”

    The recession of the late 1980s lent itself to a tight job market, but Trefny found an opportunity in Walgreens’ management program. She did that for a year before going on to work for Transamerica, Sears Consumer Financial and J.P. Morgan Stanley. Trefny, who has 23 years of experience in the financial/housing sector, joined Fannie Mae in July of 2001.

    Fannie Mae is the leading source of residential mortgage credit in the U.S. secondary market. It guarantees and purchases loans from mortgage lenders to ensure families can buy homes, refinance or rent homes, according to its website.

    In Trefny’s role at Fannie Mae, she manages business relationship with major industry trade associations like consumer banks, credit unions and mortgage banks. She’s also responsible for developing new business opportunities.

    “We’ll educate prospective lenders on what it takes to do business with Fannie Mae,” Trefny explained. “I’ll also present at conferences, talking about the hot topics of the day. I love it – I enjoy interacting with people.”

    Fannie Mae also allows Trefny to balance life and a career. The Oswego resident has three adopted children and she is able to work from home several days a week. Two of her children are from Russia and the other from the United States.

    “It was an experience to go to Russia,” Trefny said. “It’s interesting to see different cultures and how others live.”

    Like any parent, it’s never too early to start thinking about college. Trefny already is planning ahead for that day.

    “We’ll talk about it when the time comes,” Trefny said. “I’d like them to go two years of a community college. If you go to a four-year college out of a community college, you’re more mature and have a better understanding of what you want.”

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