What was supposed to be a classroom full of students excited chattering was instead a droning voice giving a lecture on how to use the Rule of 72. I first joined the Financial Literacy Initiative (FLI) as a freshman, because I was absolutely terrified of how student debt would affect my life after college. So I, along with many others, participated in every meeting, eager to learn how to save, invest, and help pay for my college tuition–skills my high school didn’t teach teenagers. But, most of all, we were excited about taking control of our futures.
By my sophomore year, however, FLI had lost its spirit. Our PowerPoint lectures were repetitive and weren’t stirring the same passion to learn that had initially made me fall in love with the nonprofit. Even from my position as Treasurer, I knew I had to do something. FLI needed to become more relevant and engaging. With these goals in mind, I got to work. I revamped our content with new topics pertaining to the changes being seen in the business world today (including our favorite– The Rise of Cryptocurrencies). I organized monthly seminars featuring prominent guest speakers, such as the investor Tim Draper and Professor Amy from CSU Sacramento. But that wasn’t enough. I needed to find a way to enable our members to apply their knowledge and see our teachings working in real life.
In my search for interactive activities, I found the Stock Market Game(SMG), an online simulation of the global capital markets. It would be a perfect addition to our Investment module! 4 months later, I watched as our 25 new members excitedly discussed their favorite SMG strategies. It had been a success! Listening to their lively conversations, I realized just how far we’d come. Reviving FLI has taught me: true leadership is the ability to look beyond the present situation, see the potential, and take action.
Today, as Vice President, I work to ensure that our club is adaptable to the ever-changing interests of our members. But, even more, I strive to be aware when things are not working and, along with my team, I seek to continually become a better organization, and, more importantly, better leaders. And, no matter what college I end up at, I plan on using this passion to continue making my impact on others as well throughout college. I will lead and expand my organization using resources available to me in college, such as the connections and mentorship of professors, access to new resources, as well as the opportunity to make connections with like-minded peers who can bring new, innovative ideas to the table. This scholarship embodies my passion for financial literacy, and being able to use it would allow me to continue to make a difference for high schoolers who, like freshmen me, feel lost and hopeless when, in reality, they just need to be educated.