By Haley Jean Jones – Shannon Oleen always knew being a speaker was her destiny. It was at the age of 8 at the 4H County Fair in Clay County Missouri where Oleen gave her first speech, where her County Leader could tell you she wasn’t great. No matter the outcome of her first speech as a child, Oleen found what she was passionate about: helping people become passionate about their lives. Oleen has come a long way from the days of public speaking at County Fairs. Now her motivational speeches spark an inherent desire of many to follow their dreams.
Oleen graduated from William Jewell College in 2004, where she received a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Political Science and Organizational Communications. While at Jewell, Oleen was very active on campus, participating in the Pryor Leadership program, the WJC Dance Team, and serving terms as Vice President of Recruitment and Campus Relations for Alpha Gamma Delta. During her senior year at Jewell, Oleen was one of only two rookies who made the Wizards (now Sporting KC) cheerleading squad. Upon graduation, Oleen did not know exactly what she wanted to do, but she knew at some point in life she wanted to work for herself and she knew what she was passionate about.
After graduation, she got the Head Cheerleading Coaching position at Pembroke Hill High School, which she states was an amazing opportunity to do what she loved right after graduation. While coaching, Oleen became a Sales and Marketing Recruiter, where she developed a skill set with which she could help people find happiness by finding the ideal jobs. After 3 years, she continued growing in her business acumen, and moved into outside sales in the Parks and Recreation field traveling across the country selling aquatic facilities such as local swimming pools, lazy rivers and park equipment. With a solid career in hand, Oleen decided in 2008 to pursue her love of cheerleading by trying out for a position on the Kansas City Chief’s Cheerleader Squad. In preparation, Oleen spent three nights a week in dance classes and the other nights at the gym for 3-4 months.
Upon reflection, Oleen states, “That weekend was magical. Just making it to finals after two rounds of cuts was an honor, but when I saw my face show up on the screen when they announced the 2009 squad, I couldn’t believe it. It was proof to me that if you are willing to work hard enough for your dreams, you truly can make anything happen.”
Two years later, Oleen “retired” from the Chiefs and decided to pursue her dream of becoming a motivational speaker.
“I built my business website in the evenings in 2011. I sent emails at night and made phone calls to the east coast from 7-8 a.m. and west coast from 5-6 p.m. to book future gigs (in my industry people hire anywhere between 4-12 months out). I started writing a blog and sending out email newsletters. I started writing articles in industry publications and putting my name out there. Thankfully, my business is thriving and I am living the life I truly love.”
Oleen now travels the United States speaking to people ages 13-30 about following their dreams, to young adults preparing to enter the workforce, and also coaching women who are interested in cheerleading professionally. She has hopes to expand her business to Canada, helping people everywhere get motivated about their lives. Coming in April she will be re-launching her website: www.shannonoleen.com.
Oleen tributes much of her success to her education and experiences at William Jewell. “Jewell gave me a foundation that allowed me to believe in myself and the classes helped me understand how to become an entrepreneur. It hasn’t been easy, but they gave me the motivation and tools to succeed”. Oleen believes that William Jewell does an excellent job preparing its students for life after college. To students, Oleen has some advice for entering the work force:
- Be assertive. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you want to do right away. What matters is that you get out there, ask questions and take advantage of the resources available to you.
- Be proactive and get internships.
- Develop a strong work ethic.
- Live each day to the fullest.