What's your background?
I grew up in the diverse neighborhoods of NYC. My education has been from public schools, which are home to people with such colorful backgrounds. In the present, I attend New York University. I'm majoring in Economics.
Can you describe the highs and lows of your college experience?
Saving best for last, let's start with the lows first. When I began my college career, one of the lowest lows was not knowing what to major in. As a first generation college student, it was overwhelming to not know what to expect or receive guidance from an immediate relative in NYC who had gone through the process in a generation before mine. A high was getting the first hand experience in attaining a high quality education. Another high was the excitement of starting my internship at Money Mentor. The free food also rules, in both places!
What was most stressful to you about paying for college if you could pick out one thing? Why?
One of the most stressful parts about paying for college would have to be the financial aid forms. As a senior in high school, I had the luck of having my older sister help me complete the forms. Though it was still difficult trying to understand the bulk of information needed to successfully complete them.
Who helped you navigate paying for college?
My older sister has been my bolster and light of guidance throughout the college application and financial aid process. I also had help from my high school advisors. Though they weren't available after school hours so it was difficult not being able to ask someone a question once school was over for the day.
What are you majoring in and why? What has been your favorite class?
I'm majoring in Economics because it's a powerful tool. Economics is applicable to everyday society and has a huge impact on quality of life. My favorite class has been Intermediate Macroeconomics, which is the study of the economy at the national level. It's important to understand how countries progress and economic growth is a large driving factor.
What do you hope to do with your career? What city or profession do you envision yourself in?
Because I am not sure about my major, I am not sure what career I will end up doing. However, I have always known that I want it to have action and to be with people. In other words, a boring desk job is not what interests me. I want the work I do to expose me to different things every single day.
What do you do for fun?
College has been a series of study sessions and homework hours. Though in my free time, I work as the Secretary of the United Nations Association of NYU. We work to advocate and support the Sustainable Development Goals. I also love writing and am the Youth Ambassador of a South African humanitarian organization called SPICE4LIFE. When it comes to the weekends, my main priority is relaxing. I own a library of books, which is my oasis.
What is your biggest piece of advice for college so far?
My biggest piece of advice for college is to keep an open mind. This may sound too broad or vague but it can apply to anything. Whether it's a major, a class, a dorm, or even a new set of clothes. The only way to grow is by stepping out of your comfort zone. It's okay to not know where you're going immediately. Feel out the unfamiliar and learn about yourself. Education is not limited to the classroom.
Why do you like about being a Money Mentor?
I like being a Money Mentor because it gives me hope. The vision of Money Mentor is a rare finding in a world that did not do enough of a job in addressing the struggles of students applying for higher education. Student debt is an explosive problem which hinders the lifestyles and dreams of college graduates. Sometimes students don't even complete their degree because of financial hardships. Money Mentor is a relief and an inspiration for the everyday student. It's a friend, a mentor, and a form of guidance. On the internal side, the Money Mentor team is filled with talented and passionate thinkers. It's a pleasure to work with them.
What's one thing that you learned while being a Money Mentor?
One thing I learned is that what you see is not always reality. The sticker price of colleges is not a stubborn, rigid numbers. There are ways around it through forms of scholarships and grants. Another route is appealing for for more aid, which is something I didn't know about before I met Money Mentor.