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Announcing the second MONEY Magazine Scholarship Winner — Ashley Banks

Posted: 06.18.12

MONEY Magazine Scholarship winner Ashley Banks

Ashley Banks has won the second of four MONEY Magazine Scholarships.  Ashley is a graduate student at UMBC and she hopes to teach math after she graduates.  At College Cash 101 in March, students attended a seminar about how to manage their finances.  Sessions about finding scholarships, budgeting, and planning for the future were available for those in attendance.  In partnership with MONEY Magazine, Central Scholarship held the event at the University of Baltimore.  Students were eligible to apply for an additional scholarship not available to those who apply online — the MONEY Magazine Scholarship which will be awarded to four students.  The first two winners, Michael Greene and Ashley Banks, were announced in May and June.  The remaining winners will be announced in July — with the grand winner of $5,000 to be announced at Central Scholarship’s Student Awards Ceremony on July 12th.  Upon receiving the award, Ashley wrote, “This award is a extra motivation to continue networking, and to always be informed.  Now I would also like to make sure others know what’s out there too.  I was glad to see the turnout of high school students, undergraduates, parents and educators. Every session was helpful, and I hope to see more things to come.”
Ashley’s winning essay —

As a college graduate, I have learned you have to take opportunities when they are presented.  Seminars are excellent ways of providing you with useful information and networking.  I attended college for several semesters by using loans, graduated with a poor credit score, am applying for graduate school, and am always thinking about life after college.  I was very grateful to attend College Cash 101 and get answers to my current situations.

I came in with a positive attitude and an open mind thinking I would make the most of an opportunity.  I needed to practice speaking with people to make contacts who were knowledgeable about paying for college and living financially responsible lives.  Knowing I could use information from every breakout session but could only attend two left me with a responsibility.  It was up to me to step out of my comfort zone and make contacts with speakers from sessions I could not attend.   I was able to chat with Mr. Stephen Briggs who held “The Perks and Perils of Credit” session.  After our talk, I have learned about attaining a free credit report every year and different types of saving accounts.  Since then, I have reviewed my credit report with a manager at Wells Fargo which helped me to reduce my bills, and learn about a credit repair program at a community center.  Now I have another opportunity to go to a seminar concerning credit where I can afterwards sit alone with a financial manager.   I was also able to converse with Jennifer Bauer from Central Scholarship, and clear up some questions I had about Central Scholarships.  I was glad about having to write one essay and be eligible for several scholarships. I will also keep in contact with Ms. Bauer for information on the no interest school loans offered through Central Scholarships.

As an undergrad, I didn’t know where to turn to or opportunities on receiving money for college.  Now I know about paying for college without incurring more debt.  In the “Finding Money for College” session, I was informed on the different types of money for college.  There are many scholarship search engines but this session helped to identify the most notable websites.  After looking at the Fastweb website, I have learned some valuable tips such as interview etiquette and internship prospects.  I took this seminar one step further and found scholarship programs inside of my university that will offer me summer experiences with middle school and high school students.

Choosing sessions was tough, but I focused on my current situations which are finding money for college and repaying student loans.  Kim Clark was excellent at warming the audience.  Dealing with money issues can be stressful to students and their parents.  Ms. Clark was very relaxed and eased our tension in letting us know other possibilities of repaying loans.  Since I will be in graduate school, I can place my undergraduate school loans in deferment.  I plan to pay the interest now.  She went around the room and gave advice to each person.  I want to be a mathematics teacher, and she told me about programs that pay loans for STEM teachers.  I went to the Maryland Higher Education Commission website, and found several grants and loan repayment programs for when I start my career.  The Direct Loans website also has a repayment program for STEM.  She differentiated between subsidized loans, unsubsidized loans, and which places offered the best loans.

The final presentation was the panel on “Post-College Employment”.  I was inspired to make things happen for me after listening to the four panelists tell about their hard work, careers, and advice.  I am motivated to seek out opportunities, and not become complacent.  There are great opportunities that I can take and I plan to keep progressing.  I am not only setting my sights on becoming a teacher but also move up the education ladder.  Listening to how Mr. Ashley Stewart reached out to people which lead him to become a Speechwriter to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education made me want to take action.  I went to my high school, and spoke with several math teachers, the mathematics department head, vice principle and principle.  What happened next made me think of Myra Holloway and the impression she left with people that gave her job opportunities she did not apply for.  A teacher remembered teaching me and introduced me to some of the faculty.  I was surprised that some of the faculty remembered me as well.  I will know be an assistant teacher for my former teacher, and have the possibility of a job.

What other things could be included in the next College Cash 101 Sessions?  Although I took notes, there was a lot of information that I missed.  It would have been nice to have a handout or email of the information presented.  I wanted to attend all four sessions but there was only time for two sessions.  It would be pleasant to have a weekend conference or split the sessions up.  Adding a session on resumes and interviews would make post graduates more employable.  Another idea is to have a few mock interviews to show students a model of what interviews are like.  Focusing on high school graduates, a session on college life would help these students be responsible at the beginning of their college careers.

I truly appreciate the efforts of Central Scholarship and Money Magazine.   I found the Money magazine April 2012 issue to be very.  I am also pleased at the opportunity for a chance of several more scholarships through this essay.  With College Cash 101, I have become more confident and motivated in continuing my progress.  I feel more confident in speaking to professional contacts, widely informed on paying for college, and ready to build my credit.  These sessions lead me to other opportunities by helping me reach out to program directors for scholarships, initiating financial counseling and job placement chances.