When I tell my friends that I work for IU, the first response I get (after the bursts of laughter): “You?! The girl who was dying to get out of Indiana and said she’d never come back after high school?”
It’s true. When I left Indianapolis to study journalism at Northwestern University, I never thought I would find myself back in my home state.
After I graduated, I started working in a financial aid outreach position for the state of Illinois, educating high school students on the importance of going to college and talking to their families about how to pay for their education. I loved my work, but at the time, I had barely figured that stuff out for myself. I didn’t always feel prepared to educate people on such difficult and personal topics.
So, I went back to school and studied student affairs and counseling at the University of Maryland-College Park. (I can’t deny my love for Big Ten schools!) I worked in career services at the business school there, as it seemed only natural to give back to an on-campus department that helped me so much when I was an undergrad. Afterward, I felt I’d received the tools I needed to be a better advocate for students during difficult transition times, especially in preparing for life after graduation.
I’ll go ahead and admit to being a nerd here: After I graduated, when I heard that IU had an Office of Financial Literacy and a MoneySmarts program, and that they were hiring, I couldn’t get to my phone fast enough to ask more about the position and convince the director that he needed me onboard.
For me, working in an office of financial literacy captured everything I wanted to do, combining my experiences in education and work that led me here. The Office of Financial Literacy and the MoneySmarts program helps make conversations around a sticky issue more…well…unsticky. We recognize that what students go through with their finances is personal and can affect every aspect of their lives. The journalist in me thrives on the stories that live there. But the student affairs side of me loves advocating for students’ success in navigating these processes.
To share the MoneySmarts program with more students, our office is partnering with the Office of First Year Experiences to host the MoneySmarts WinterFest on Monday, Jan. 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the IMU Alumni Hall and Solarium.
We’re encouraged by IU’s focus on affordability and debt reduction as part of President McRobbie’s Bicentennial Strategic Plan and Provost Robel’s Bicentennial Strategic Plan for IU Bloomington. I see this event as a conversation starter among students – the thing that gets students to realize that defeating the “debt monster” can be a tangible thing, given the right tools.
There will be lots of free snacks, games, prizes including three $150 scholarships, music courtesy of DJ/Emcee Mr. Kinetik, and an expo that features free and low-cost resources to students across campus and the Bloomington community. It all wraps up with a live broadcast of the MoneySmarts U Podcast hosted by Pete the Planner and 2015 IU alumnus Alex Eaton, featuring a special guest: Scotty’s Brewhouse CEO Scott Wise. Participants will even get a chance to “Take Revenge against the Debt Monster.”
While this free event is primarily targeted toward students, IU Bloomington faculty and staff are welcome to attend as well.
Our office thinks it is important for students to attend events like this for a couple different reasons:
- We know the topic of finances isn’t likely to become an exciting topic overnight, but this is a way to get students talking about it.
- WinterFest is a fun alternative way for students to get information about something we all need – affordable resources and ways to engage in money management topics – without having to be bored to tears. I am excited for what I hope will be the first annual WinterFest, and I hope to see you there!
WinterFest attendees can RSVP here in advance for an increased chance at winning prizes.