Interview: Woodbury’s Financial Literacy Program is Now a PASS Class

One of Woodbury’s most successful student support services is our financial sustainability program. It is run by Brenda Blas, a Woodbury alum who recently became our campus financial advisor. In addition to offering workshops, Brenda and her coaching team also meet with students one-on-one, helping them navigate the many complicated financial issues they face.

Now, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is offering financial literacy as a 1-unit class, PASS 1700: Introduction to Financial Literacy. Need help budgeting? Want to plan how your future career can match your financial ambitions? Looking for tips on how to manage those college loans? Brenda’s PASS class helps students find answers to these questions and more. We interviewed Brenda to learn why she wanted to offer this class and what services the financial literacy program provides our campus at large.

  1. Do you have a personal financial literacy story that informed why you like to work with students?

My decision to work with students is derived from my own personal experiences. During my undergraduate years, I encountered financial hardships that I found difficult to navigate. The uncertainty surrounding whether I was making the right decisions and the potential implications for my future were significant stressors.

My prior experience in higher education admissions also influenced me. Witnessing students gaining acceptance to their desired universities, only to face financial barriers, highlighted the critical need for financial guidance in the education decision-making process. Recognizing this gap, I am committed to providing students with the necessary tools and support to navigate the complexities of financial decision-making, fostering a more accessible and sustainable educational experience.

  1. What does your job as a financial literacy advisor entail?

In my capacity as Woodbury’s financial advisor, my primary objective is to enable students to make informed and responsible financial choices. The Financial Sustainability Program (FSP) is a component of the Title V HSI Sustainability Programs Grant, which launched Woodbury’s Construction Management and Sustainable Practices programs, but FSP serves all Woodbury students. In this role, I oversee two Financial Coaches, Isaac Morales and Ruby Magzul. Together, we deliver a range of services, including workshops, presentations, special events, and one-on-one mentoring, with the overarching aim of equipping students with the knowledge, resources, and confidence needed for financial responsibility.

I am driven to be a resource for students, offering support when they face tough financial decisions. Rather than dictating decisions, I guide students to weigh their options, evaluate situations, and provide available resources. Essentially, my role is to equip students with tools and teach them how to use these tools effectively, empowering them to make informed financial choices.

  1. If you are already providing so many services for the campus, why did you want to offer this new Financial Literacy PASS class?

My motivation stems from recognizing its pivotal importance for college students. Teaching this course allows me to equip students with an entire set of indispensable skills over the semester, so they leave with a well-rounded financial education. This includes effective money management, budgeting, understanding loans, and making informed financial decisions. By instilling financial literacy, I aim to help students prevent debt, foster responsible financial behavior, and prepare them for a successful financial future.

  1.  Can you tell us about one of your class projects?

The goal of the final class project is to craft a well-rounded career and financial plan that incorporates essential elements for both personal and professional advancement. This includes in-depth research on their desired career and utilizing a paycheck analyzer to grasp potential earnings while considering factors like taxes, deductions, and supplementary benefits. Students will formulate a comprehensive budget plan, outline a strategy for repaying student loans, engage in resume development, and conclude by setting a financial goal and identifying the steps needed to achieve it.

  1. What is the #1 tip you tell students about financial literacy?

A key message I consistently convey to the students I assist is that discussing finances may not be easy; for some, it can be an uncomfortable topic. However, to achieve success and accomplish financial goals, it’s imperative to step out of one’s comfort zone. When facing financial hardships, maintaining a positive outlook and persevering through hard work are essential. With determination, you can navigate through challenges and make financial success a reality.

You can follow the FSP on Instagram: @wu_financial.sustainability

Last Updated February 13, 2024

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