Victor Branch: “One-man RBC promoter”
By Amy Lacey
Victor Branch remembers growing up in Dinwiddie County in the 1960s and 1970s as one of five siblings with a supportive family that provided endless opportunities for him.
“When people ask me my story, I’m so proud to share where I come from,” says Branch. “My parents were not high school graduates, and they knew education was the passport out of poverty.”
Branch, now a 37-year veteran of Bank of America (BofA), admits he was not sure what career he wanted to pursue after graduating from Dinwiddie High School in 1980. His parents encouraged him to enroll at Richard Bland College of William and Mary (RBC) instead of following his classmates to four-year programs. Branch serves as RBC Committee Chair, William & Mary Board of Visitors.
“I veered off in a direction that none of my friends or family members had before,” Branch describes. “RBC took a diamond in the rough and polished it up and put me on the path to where I sit today.”
Branch, the current regional vice president for BofA’s Richmond region, appreciated not being just a number during his time at RBC. The nurturing, small group atmosphere offered him attention from his professors and faculty advisor to RBC’s President at the time, Dr. Clarence Maze.
“Two years at RBC turned this kid around to show him how he could be academic and successful, and I matriculated into William and Mary and was ready for the rigor of the competitive environment,” Branch recalls. “I won’t say it was easy, it was nowhere near it, but I was able to hold my own and come out in two years. I didn’t have to take any extra courses. Richard Bland was a game-changer with the background I come from.”
After he graduated from William and Mary, Branch learned the bank that eventually became BofA through mergers was hiring. He started there in 1984 and climbed the ranks, along with the company’s evolution into a trillion-dollar company with more than 200 thousand employees with global reach and services.
Branch also got married to a high school friend turned sweetheart who attended Richard Bland. His two daughters, numerous cousins, and now his great-nephew chose RBC for their higher education too.
“All roads lead to Richard Bland in the Branch clan,” he says. “We’re in our third generation now, family members who have walked those wonderful, beautiful grounds. Richard Bland is a big part of my life and my family’s life.”
In 2018, Governor Ralph Northam appointed Branch to the Board of Visitors at William and Mary. He is the first RBC graduate to serve on the governing body, and he is proud to help guide the future of a school that set him up for success.
“I am a one-man promoter of RBC and what it does,” Branch says. “I do encourage young people who are willing to listen to seriously consider RBC.”