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Khe'Osha McClain-Salter is one of three students nationwide to participate in the Southern Living Custom Home Builder Mentor Program, where she received a deeper understanding of the industry through meetings with mentors and travel opportunities.
“Southern Living is a powerhouse name and to have this connection with them speaks well of our students and program as a whole." — Greg Winchester, Adjunct Professor and Head of Industry and Alumni Relations in AU’s MRED Program
To say Khe’Osha McClain-Salter has big dreams is a huge understatement. The second-semester student in Auburn’s Master of Real Estate Development program (MRED) is dedicated to serving her community and wants to do this by developing her own brokerage firm to market commercial and residential real estate, with much of her work dedicated to helping non-profit organizations and lower-income families with development needs.
With a little help from Auburn MRED and the Southern Living Custom Builder Mentor Program, she’s gaining all the tools she needs.
McClain-Salter and minority students from two other universities learned how to access capital, explored sales and marketing techniques, discovered residential scheduling/client relations, home design trends, and resume-building/job tips during this six-month pilot program designed to drive diversity within the custom home building industry.
“The Auburn MRED Program has taught me so much in such a short period, and provided me with priceless opportunities,” said McClain-Salter, a legal assistant originally from Fort Pierce, Florida, with an extensive history of volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity, Boys & Girls Club, and Big Brother/Big Sister and countless other programs. “Each semester we come to campus for residency and go on field studies trips where the amount of knowledge and administrative support I’m surrounded by is remarkable and undoubtedly unmatched.”
McClain-Salter and other mentees in the program have the opportunity to job shadow some of the most recognized names in the custom home building industry. Program elements include:
Mary Ludemann, right, Owner and Principal Designer of New Old Custom Homes in Charlotte, N.C., served as Khe'Osha McClain-Salter's mentor.
“Having the opportunity to fly to Charlotte, North Carolina, and meet my mentor in-person (Mary Ludemann, Owner and Principal Designer of New Old Fine Custom Homes) was monumental,” McClain-Salter said. “While visiting Mary I got the opportunity to see her in action, watch her interact with her clients and see first-hand how she works. That experience was invaluable. We went to a current construction site and did a walkthrough and discussed the construction and custom-building aspects. We drove through a neighborhood that was lined with beautiful homes all of which Mary and her husband, Trent developed. They bought a property, put in a road, subdivided it, and were developing the seventh and final home. I was in complete awe! Seeing what Mary had done added a sense of confidence to my grand dreams of developing one day.”
Ludemann was impressed with McClain-Salter’s “hunger and willingness to learn.”
“Khe’Osha is the whole package in that she is interested in every aspect of real estate, from land development, brokerage, commercial real estate, building, and low-income housing,” Ludemann said. “She is soaking it all in. I admire that not only does she want to excel in her future real estate dealings professionally and personally, but it is also very important to her to make a positive difference and impact on this world by focusing on affordable and truly livable housing.
“We were both very fortunate to be hand-picked by the Southern Living Custom Builder Mentoring Program. This new initiative has been instrumental in introducing high-achieving, exceptionally driven minority college students with established residential construction firms in the Southeast. This industry needs talented young people with a fresh perspective and vision. It’s not for the feint-hearted, but with an introduction and a little bit of direction, I hope to make this industry much more accessible to Khe’Osha and others like her.”
Greg Winchester, Adjunct Professor and Head of Industry and Alumni Relations in Auburn’s MRED Program, said Auburn is “very fortunate to be part of this prestigious program.”
“Southern Living is a powerhouse name and to have this connection with them speaks well of our students and program as a whole,” he said. “We look forward to exploring avenues to further this great relationship. This also gives students of our program who are interested in residential developments another way to pursue this. Many of our students have an interest in home-building, so for this segment of our cohorts who want to get involved more on the residential side, this is a wonderful opportunity.”
McClain-Salter earned a BS in Psychology at Florida State University, but her interest in developing real estate grew with each passing day in Tallahassee. Auburn’s MRED program offered her the opportunity to take her education – and future plans – to another level.
“I have learned something new every step of the way, including my mentorship opportunity, attending the CityBuilders Summit, in-depth discussions with my incredibly knowledgeable instructors as well as small conversations with my cohort. I always walked away with knowledge,” added McClain-Salter, who is currently working toward a real estate license and purchasing her first property.