Welcome to another installment of our "$cholar Talk" series. This segment features posts written by Scholars of our "Invest-in-Success" program! It provides a platform for our students to share their experiences, discuss financial topics relevant to teenagers, and provides you a chance to connect with them.
Without further adieu, please welcome our scholar-blogger Taylor Williams.
From day one, I fell in love with D.R.E.A.M. and the Invest-in-Success program. I had the opportunity to participate in the program as a scholar in the 2015 cohort. The Invest-in-Success curriculum is unique in that aims at taking relatively high level financial topics, and breaking them down in a digestible manner for a teenager to understand.
The program also focused on my personal development as a well rounded student. I was mandated to engage in the Finance Academy sessions and not just passively listen to a lecture. I surprised myself with the amount of times that I raised my hand not only because I wanted to ask a question but also to offer some input in the conversations. I discovered that I could have my own viewpoints on complex topics such as credit management, and this dialogue was encouraged by the organization's Co-Founder, Femi Faoye. The program helped me to develop an independent thought process and increased my self confidence. I was empowered to believe that as a young woman, I am fully capable of understanding and managing my personal finances.
The Invest-in-Success program is much more than just financial literacy education. The program served as a key component in my preparation and execution of the college application process. In my first year of the program I was matched with a Success Mentor, Tadia James. Tadia was immensely helpful throughout the program in helping me to navigate my high school coursework, SAT prep, and of course my personal finances. Tadia also spent countless late nights helping me choose the right set of colleges to apply to and ultimately fulfill my goals. She then worked with me to build an exceptional application that conveyed my personal value proposition to gain admission to these institutions. As a result, I was accepted into every college I applied to and was even offered a $44,000 scholarship!
One of my lasting memories of my time in the program was when the program co-founders were recognized by Black Enterprise Magazine. I was able to participate in the photo-shoot as a result of the recognition. The BE feature instilled a sense of pride within me and inspired me to one day go on and give back to my community.
The program encouraged me to chase leadership opportunities as they present themselves. Due to the influence of the program, I had the courage to apply for a position as an Admissions Ambassador at Montclair State University, where I am currently enrolled, as a sophomore. I am the youngest ambassador and one of only four black females in the program. I can confidently say that the Invest-in-Success program and investment that the D.R.E.A.M. staff and my mentor, Tadia, made in me has prepared me for college and my future by pushing me to obtain goals that never would have crossed my mind.
I would recommend the Invest -in-Success program to any student who not only wants to learn about financial literacy, but also more importantly wants to be empowered to take control of their life.
About the Scholar: Taylor Williams is a native of New Jersey. She is currently a sophomore at Montclair State University. She is alumnus of the Invest-in-Success program, Class of 2015. She holds the proud distinction of being the first female scholar to complete the program.