Tantalized by a steady flow of letters announcing, “You’ve been pre-approved for a credit card,” some students are finding themselves in credit card debt. And they may not have the additional financial savvy to know how to budget and save. Two recent graduates from the College of Business Administration and the Honors College recently set out to help change that.
Nicholas Valverde (BBA ’06) a finance major with a certificate in banking, and one course shy of a minor in economics, and Richard Bruguera (BBA ’06), who had a double major in finance and accounting, took advantage of an independent study option to complete their required Honors College coursework—and assist their younger classmates. Robert Hogner, associate professor of management and international business, coordinator of the college’s Civic Engagement Initiative, and a senior fellow in the Honors College, supervised the project.
“Some parents haven’t taught their kids how to manage money, and many students who aren’t finance majors haven’t had the opportunity to learn what we have,” said Valverde, who now is working for a private equity fund. “We wanted to help them understand how to manage their money, from controlling their use of credit cards to determining a budget, to investing, to creating a savings plan.”
Piloting the presentation was a priority.
The duo developed a PowerPoint presentation and piloted it on new associates in their fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi, before offering it as “Financial Literacy” information sessions through the “First Year Experience.” All students entering Florida International University with fewer than thirty semester hours must take the one-credit course designed to help acclimate them to college life and its expectations.
“I was never very good at using credit and was dipping into savings when I shouldn’t have been,” said college MIS major Randy Borges, a member of the pilot group.
He gave the experience “two thumbs up.”
“The presentation was really informative and presenters laid it out in a way that was very understandable,” he said. “I am now managing my money much more effectively.”
Students leave a legacy.
Valverde and Bruguera planned a twenty-minute presentation but received so many questions and so much interest that they expanded it to a full hour.
“When we started, I didn’t think students would be that interested, and it was very satisfying to see how involved they became,” said Bruguera, operations manager of nonprofit Parent to Parent of Miami, Inc.
Although the two creators of the program have now graduated, they have establish the foundation to leave a legacy—one of the requirements of the independent study project.
“Richard was a member of the Financial Management Association (FMA) and I belonged to the Financial Honor Society (FHS), two organizations that work closely together,” Valverde said. “We met with the two boards and got them to agree to continue the project as a community service project and provided them our presentation to use in future sessions.”
“The idea for this project seeded when an BBA major was offered a full Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE) scholarship from the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) plus $3000, to study in Spain,” Hogner said. “She had to decline, citing needing a job to make payments on her new car lease. Why a car? She answered, to get back and forth to work!”
According to Hogner, “Valverde and Bruguera’s senior project is a fine example of experiential learning with a responsive and substantive community impact. They already have changed lives, and the project they developed will change many others.”