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Making Smart Financial Choices

Smart 5 By Betty Ann Falkner

Center for Smart Financial Choices

MAY 13, 2019 - Every once in a while the pieces come together to celebrate the hard work of students whose efforts shine brightly in this crazy hectic world. For the past five years, the Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) has been privileged to meet bright young people during its annual financial education scholarship program.

2019 was no exception as students from West Forsyth High School, Middle College of Forsyth, Early College of Forsyth, Glenn High School, Salem Academy, and North Carolina Leadership Academy used their Saturday or weeknight to attend two financial education classes.

They were further challenged to write an essay answering one of three questions: Is money necessary to achieve dreams? Is a college education worth the accompanying debt? Should personal finance be mandatory in public schools?

Overall, the Center for Smart Financial Choices feels confident that the primary goal of empowering young people with knowledge about money was accomplished through the scholarship process.

Smart 2 Summer Bowman, a Middle College of Forsyth student, exemplified this in her essay when she wrote, “Financial literacy writes a different narrative…that no matter one’s socioeconomic background or level of earnings, one can have financial health, which lasts a lifetime.”

On April 30, CFSFC was privileged to honor the winners of this year’s scholarships with the assistance  of WXII Meteorologist Lanie Pope. Pope shared her teachable moment with her two teenage sons when she told them, “There are things that I can teach you, there are things that teachers will teach you, and there are things you will only learn by messing up.”

She further shared, “success means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, it takes hard work, which is effort and time; dedication is prioritizing and making a commitment to something that is going to get you somewhere you want to be. Things are not given to us; we earn them through hard work. There will be obstacles along the way. Success is learning to adapt, to reroute, to figure out how I can get through this. Success is failure and you can’t figure it out until you mess up.”

Winners of the scholarship included the following:Smart 3

  • The first winner of a $500 awards went to Summer Bowman, a student from Middle College of Forsyth who impressed the selection committee with her outstanding academic record, well-developed sense of humor, and obvious dedication to service. She is the current valedictorian of her senior class with almost 40 college credits already under her belt and has shown dedication in mastering the Spanish language. She shows a strong interest in service to others through her long-time involvement in Civil Air Patrol and current endeavor to become a certified EMT. Summer will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and hopes to graduate debt free.
  • The second scholarship award of $1,000 went to another student from Middle College of Forsyth, Gina Cisneros Guzman. Along with her academic successes as number 12 in her class, she displayed evidence of community service through National Honor Society, Crosby Scholars, and completion of the Global Scholar of Distinction Program. The selection committee was particularly impressed by the depth of character and perseverance shown in her essay. She comes from a legacy of overcoming obstacles and making sacrifices to achieve goals, attributes that will be an asset to her for the entirety of her life. We are excited to support her continued education and hope that she will continue to follow the advice of her father which she wrote about in her essay: “Success is simple but you have to start somewhere and you must work on achieving it every day.” Gina will attend the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
  • The final youth scholarship award of $1,000 went to Li Chen, a young woman that the selection committee admired for her strong academic record and thoughtfulness in answering the required essay question. Ranked tenth in her class at Early College of Forsyth, she has shown a commitment to excellence in education and argued quite convincingly that a college degree is worth the possible debt associated with it, especially after seeing firsthand the challenges that can accompany a lack of education. Li will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Smart 4 The Center congratulates the graduating class of 2019 and encourages them to build their financial knowledge so they can continue their educational path. As Li Chen shared, “Education and money make the world go around” and she learned the importance of understanding money and planning out her future. Gina learned that, “every dollar counts and one must be willing to work hard to earn it”.

About Center for Smart Financial Choices

The Center for Smart Financial Choices (CFSFC) was established in 2011 as a non-profit organization designed to provide financial education courses that help individuals find out what their habits and attitudes are towards money and the things they value most in life and guides them to accomplish their financial goals.

CFSFC also offers teens and college students a variety of fun, interactive, workshops to expose them to everything from building credit to saving, from student loan debt to the importance of sticking to a budget. For more information, go to Smart Financial Choices