Money Mentor

Money Mentors



What's your background? 

I'm a junior at Columbia University where I'm majoring in History and concentrating in Political Science. I grew up in Scarsdale, New York. 


Can you describe the highs and lows of your college experience? 

The first year of college was tough because college is incredibly different from high school and it took some time to get comfortable in such a new environment. I also struggled to make friends, but by getting involved in more extracurricular activities I was able to meet more people and eventually I found the right group of friends for me. Also, my classes in college have challenged me much more than my high school classes did, but with time I was able to adjust to the heavier coursework as well.

I had to force myself to identify what was making me unhappy or stressed and find ways to fix those problems, but now I feel much more comfortable and confident in my abilities. There are definitely highs and lows, but the good days make up for the bad ones! 


What was most stressful to you about paying for college if you could pick out one thing? Why? 

My guidance counselor helped me figure out how to fill out the FAFSA and pay for college. She was very knowledgeable, but she wasn't always available, so I had to keep track of the appointments I made with her and make sure that I had all my questions ready to go to make the most of the time I had with her. Lots of lunch periods were sacrificed! 


Who helped you navigate paying for college? 

I was lucky enough that I had my mom help me fill out the FAFSA application. Other than that, I was very uniformed about loans or scholarships, and looking back I really wish I had someone to help me. 


What are you majoring in and why? What has been your favorite class? 

I'm majoring in History and concentrating in Political Science. I highly enjoy studying the changes that have happened in human society and how different players have interacted to create the world we live in today. I also firmly believe that understanding what happened in the past helps you understand what is happening in the present and predict what will happen in the future - which is where Political Science comes into play.

My favorite class so far was a two-semester course on political and philosophical theory starting with Plato and Aristotle and ending with Gandhi and Foucault. It was a ton of reading, but it blew my mind!


What do you hope to do with your career? What city or profession do you envision yourself in? 

I want to do something that helps others, but I'm not sure exactly what form that will take. Most alumni that I've spoken with on this subject tell me post-graduation plans never really go how you thought they would anyways, so I'm trying to be open to all opportunities (as cliché as that sounds).


What do you do for fun? 

I joined a sorority called Gamma Phi Beta, which has helped me feel much more comfortable on my campus. There are a lot of misleading stereotypes out there about sororities, but in reality, a sorority is just a community of feminist women who support each other and make each other stronger, and we're not exclusive at all - in fact, we're always open to new members!

I'm also involved in my school's chapter of HeForShe, a UN Women campaign that raises awareness about issues involving gender. We work closely with Columbia's Sexual Violence Response team to host discussions and workshops, and we also host members of the U.N. staff to come speak on campus! On the weekends, I like to work out, cook, and hang out with friends - basically anything that helps me de-stress!


What is your biggest piece of advice for college so far? 

College can feel isolating at times, so don't be afraid to reach out to others for help, advice, or just to vent - chances are that they have things that they want to talk about with someone too, and it can bring you closer with the people around you. Also, don't give in to peer pressure, and do what makes you happy! 


Why do you like about being a NextGenVest Money Mentor? 

I love working at NextGenVest as a Money Mentor because I believe that everyone should have access to the resources and help that they need to succeed. NextGenVest is doing something about the huge inequalities in this country, and I love being a part of that. 


What's one thing that you learned while being a Money Mentor? 

I learned that you can actually negotiate your financial aid package and leverage with schools to ask them to give you more money!

Grace Martinez