The Texas REALTORS® Young Professionals Network (YPN) named five REALTORS® to Watch award recipients earlier this year. These Texas REALTORS® under the age of 40 demonstrate excellence in leadership and community involvement and are making their mark in the real estate industry. Read on to see what makes each one stand out.

Cameron Willmann, Permian Basin

Licensed since … 2007
Specialties: Residential; property management; commercial; development
Designations and certifications: Texas REALTORS® Leadership Program graduate
Leadership positions: 2011-2013 Chair of Young Professionals Network of the Permian Basin Board of REALTORS®; 2015 President of the PBBOR; 2010-2013 Director for PBBOR; Chaired Education Committee and New Member Orientation at PBBOR; 2019 Chair of TAR Member Benefits Committee; 2011-2013 Agent Leadership Council at Keller Williams Realty Midland; 2014-present Region 6 TREPAC Trustee.
Fun facts: I am the proud father of a 2-year-old, Poppy, and Lincoln, who was born in August. I’ve been married for 10 years to Jessi, and father to fur-babies Stewie and Layla. I love music, traveling, and Netflix.

Why did you decide to become a real estate professional?

I have always been interested in real estate, construction, and design. When I realized selling advertising for a Fox affiliate was not going to move my life forward, a mentor and a friend suggested I get my real estate license and come work for his brokerage so I could work for myself and build a business. Building a business sounded like something I could get behind. I loved the idea of being able to grow as much as I wanted to, and grow my business and income as big as I could.

What sets you apart from other Texas REALTORS®?

I have a department for everything inside of a single team. We service residential, commercial, property management, and development. We handle sales and leasing, including condos. We represent multiple builders and developers, too. I’m definitely not a jack-of-all-trades, because I seek out specialists who can focus on their area of the business and give clients high-quality service. And we have a dinosaur. REALTOR® Rex has become our mascot and purveyor of our message, sense of humor, and information. He is the spokes-dino of the Haus Property Group.

How do you grow your skills?

I am a huge fan of school. I am a huge fan of learning from those who “do” at a high level. I regularly attend educational classes and training through my brokerage, Keller Williams Realty, as well as with many of its associates. I’ve also started classes for my CCIM, and I search out opportunities for more knowledge about best practices for property managers.

Outside of all of that, I read. I want to be a better, more-effective leader and human. My team has a book club, and I use Audible on my own. Different perspectives make me think and grow. There are a lot of books in the world with valuable knowledge and tactics to employ in this field and in business ownership and leadership.

Vanessa Dirks, Lubbock

Licensed since … 2005
Specialties: Property management
Designations and certifications: Texas REALTORS® Leadership Program graduate; Texas Residential Leasing Specialist (TRLS); Texas Residential Property Manager (TRPM)
Leadership roles: 2018 President-Elect for Lubbock Association of REALTORS®; past chair for Lubbock Association of REALTORS® YPN/NextGen Committee, Property Managers Committee, Investors and Finance Committee, and current chair of the TREPAC Committee; TAR YPN Committee member; TAR Property Management Committee member
Fun facts: I treat my dogs like they are my children, and they even have their own Instagram account (@doodlesofdirks). I also have a T-Rex collection that would rival most any 6-year-old boy’s collection.

What sets you apart from other real estate professionals?

I specialize in property management, and I don’t even dabble in sales. I believe in specializing, so much so that I have another broker represent me in selling and purchasing properties. And in my market, I am one of the first property managers to offer management services for short-term rentals.

What is something you would change about the industry?

I would like to see more people get involved with the association and view the local association as more than just a key service or an MLS. For me, the association has become a great way to network and have a community, and I think others are missing out on that.

What else are you passionate about?

I am passionate about real estate, especially property management. I have been a Major Investor in TREPAC since 2014, and I am currently chairing my local association’s TREPAC Committee. It has been great to see new agents becoming more involved with TREPAC, but even more rewarding in getting agents who have been in the business for years becoming investors in TREPAC. I’m also proud that our local association had a 72% participation rate and invested $124,738 in TREPAC for this year.

Benjamin Rodriguez, Beaumont

Licensed since … 2005
Specialties: Residential
Designations and certifications: Graduate, REALTORS® Institute (GRI); Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR); Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES)
Leadership positions: Broker/Owner of Triangle Real Estate; 2018 Beaumont Board of REALTORS® President; 2016-2018 TREPAC Trustee; 2014-2016 PIC; 2017 Beaumont Board of REALTORS® Vice President; 2016 Beaumont Board of REALTORS® 2nd Vice President; 2015 Beaumont Board of REALTORS® Secretary; 2014 Beaumont Board of REALTORS® Treasurer; 2013 Beaumont Board of REALTORS® Director
Fun facts: I’ve been very involved in my daughter’s soccer team since she was 6-years-old (she’s 16 now), and I recently helped found a new soccer club—REALTexas FC—and serve as the president.

Why did you decide to become a real estate professional?

Technically, I wanted to be a real estate investor. However, after obtaining my license and joining a local brokerage, I fell in love with helping people find their dream home and helping investors find deals that turned to profit.

How do you continue to further your education and improve your skills?

I read as much as I can on real estate and trends. Being the Beaumont Board of REALTORS® president for 2018 helps, but it’s really when I’m getting out there and making deals.

What sets you apart from other Texas REALTORS®?

I have built my business on telling my clients what they need to hear and not what they want to hear. No fluff. Plus, I am great with technology. I was the first agent in Southeast Texas with Docusign, and then first using 3D virtual tour technology.

What is your career philosophy?

I have been in real estate for over 13 years now, and my business has grown every year that I have expanded my leadership roles.

I believe that disagreements and discussion from those disagreements is the only way to solve complex problems, and a room full of bodies that agree on everything solves nothing.

Julie Reupke, Corpus Christi

Licensed since … 2003
Specialties: Residential; second home/vacation properties
Designations and certifications: Texas REALTORS® Leadership Program graduate
Leadership roles: Corpus Christi Board of REALTORS® Education Committee; TREPAC Committee; Corpus Christi Association of REALTORS® Nominating Committee for the 2019 Board of Directors
Fun facts: I have worked with HGTV on three TV episodes featuring my beautiful community: two episodes of “Island Life” and one of “Beachfront Bargain Hunt: Renovation.”

Why did you decide to become a real estate professional?

Prior to becoming a license holder, I studied interior design at Missouri State University. I later moved to South Texas and worked at a live music venue and bar in Port Aransas. Through interacting with my customers, I saw the excitement, joy, and quality of life that come with living on “island time.”

When my big 3-0 was approaching, I felt ready for a life change and gathered the courage to take a leap into a real estate career. I knew soon after I had made the right choice.

Do you have a mentor? How has your mentor influenced your career?

I am blessed with two mentors who offer me different perspectives. Becky Corder, who started our brokerage in 1984, and Suzette Freeman, a broker since 1996, have shown me how to be a strong businesswoman and operate with professionalism.

From Day One, these women have been available and accessible to me at all hours of the day or night, whether they are home or out of the country, and still teach me how to address, diffuse, or avoid situations that have come up during my real estate transactions. They have influenced me to take action and be an advocate and participate in organizations I feel strongly about.

What is your greatest challenge in real estate and how have you worked to overcome it?

When you are a new agent, it’s easy to feel like a small fish in a big pond. The greatest challenge in real estate, and in life in general, is having the confidence to stand up for what you know is right and always live each day knowing you handled everything with professionalism and kindness. I work to overcome that challenge by getting involved and getting education that helps me better serve my clients and fellow colleagues. Saying yes to experiences, saying yes to opportunity, and saying yes to something you are scared of will only result in the satisfaction of knowing you put yourself out there to grow as a professional and as a person.

Kathy Wade Turner, Bryan-College Station

Licensed since … 2010
Specialties: Residential; relocation; commercial/industrial/office properties; development; new construction
Designations and certifications: 2014 Texas REALTORS® Leadership Program graduate, Military Relocation Professional (MRP)
Leadership positions: Women’s Council of REALTORS® National Steering Committee; Women’s Council of REALTORS® Texas District Vice President 2018; Women’s Council of REALTORS® Texas Governor 2018; Women’s Council of REALTORS® Texas Secretary Elect; Women’s Council of REALTORS® Texas Leadership Identification Committee; Bryan-College Station Association of REALTORS® TREPAC Committee; One for all BISD Political Action Committee Chair
Fun facts: I serve in several areas of the Bryan Independent School District, such as Johnson Elementary PTO Board for seven years, Johnson Elementary PTO President for two years, Bryan ISD Parent Leadership Team for seven years, Safety Task Force for one year, and Facilities Committee for four years.

Why did you decide to become a real estate professional?

I started my career in mortgage information systems, and my company was sold and went public, then things took a quick downturn and it filed for bankruptcy. I was a single mom of two, and I knew I had to find a career that would allow me the flexibility to raise my children while maintaining a steady income to sustain our family.

A friend suggested real estate, and I took a leap of faith and dove right in. From the moment I started my classes, I fell in love with the idea of being able to help people navigate through the process of homeownership. I knew that if I could play a role in helping people purchase homes, find commercial spaces to start a business venture, or find land to farm and ranch on, my life would be fulfilled daily.

Do you have a mentor? How has your mentor influenced your career?

The most influential mentor in my real estate life is Sylvia Seabolt, who I met when she came to help us charter Women’s Council of REALTORS® in the Brazos Valley. From the moment I met Sylvia, I was impressed with her ability to take the struggles in her life and capitalize on what the journey taught her. People like Sylvia have taught me that true servant leadership is identifying people and their gifts and encouraging them along the path of leadership and reaching their dreams.

What is your greatest challenge in real estate and how have you worked to overcome it?

The greatest challenge I have faced in real estate is the struggles that I have had in my personal life that have interfered with my focus on my career at times. I started to lose faith in my ability to run my own real estate business while being able to take care of a family. Through some amazing mentors and some internal motivation, I have overcome every obstacle and now use my story to help others going through struggles.