Alumna finds “paradise” and dream job in Naples, Florida
It matches properties to lifestyles, sells mansions with eight-figure price tags, and has ties to one of the oldest and most famous auction houses in the world. Premier Sotheby’s International Reality is a dream job for real estate agents and Kim Ouellette, Macomb alumna, is the managing broker of its Naples’ office.
“Naples is more beautiful than the Caribbean, with ten miles of white sand beaches,” says Ouellette. “But I don’t think I’d be here if it wasn’t for Macomb.”
When Ouellette graduated from high school in Sterling Heights, she realized she was ill-prepared for college. She had never taken algebra or college composition, and wasn’t sure what she wanted do with the rest of her life. She enrolled at Macomb two weeks after receiving her high school diploma and completed the required assessment test, which showed she had an aptitude for law. Macomb’s Legal Assistant Program was brand new and Ouellette began the journey that would lead to her life in Naples.
“I found a program that spoke to me,” says Ouellette. “And from there, I fell in love with real estate.”
A licensed broker for more than 20 years, Ouellette had a successful career in Michigan with Century 21. But on the way to catch a cruise ship for a family vacation, she and her husband, Ken, detoured to Naples and were immediately smitten by the Gulf of Mexico gem.
“As soon as I came here, I wanted to live here.” says Ouellette. “It’s paradise.”
Kim and Ken moved to Naples 13 years ago and although she says, “I miss a cloudy, rainy day,” the optimal sunshine, warm temperatures and cultural ambience suits her well. As has her last career move.
“I loved real estate sales and had all the designations,” offers Ouellette, whose office at Sotheby’s is across the road from the Ritz Carleton in Naples. “But they came to me and asked, ‘Why don’t you go into management?’ Now I oversee about 70 employees. My degree prepared me well.”
Ouellette is not the only member of her family to attend Macomb. Ken, an electrical engineer and Canadian transplant, took an economics class with Jim Jacobs, current Macomb president. And both of the couples’ grown daughters attended Macomb, as did Kim’s mother.
“Macomb touches so many people’s lives,” says Ouellette. “That’s why I am so passionate about it.”
For Ouellette, that passion led her to join the College’s alumni association and to help coordinate its annual Naples reunion. This year, its fourth, Macomb entered a decorated trolley into the city’s popular St. Patrick’s Day Parade, joining those from Notre Dame, University of Michigan and other schools with large alumni bases in Florida. Ouellette was astounded by how many in the crowd of about 40,000 cheered as the Macomb “float” passed by.
“I can’t tell you how many people knew who we were. Either they or someone in their family obviously had gone here,” relates Ouellette. “Macomb is a life force in the community. And for some students, it changes the direction of their life, like it did for me 38 years ago.”