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April 2019
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Pineywoods Chapter hosts reality fair to teach SFA students about real-life expenses
Wednesday, April 10, 2019 6:55 AM

Volunteers helped SFA students experience what it feels like to stay within a budget. Pictured in the front row from left are Cody Derouen, Doches CU, Haley Snodgrass, Doches CU, April Krause, Cornerstone Credit Union League, Paula Upchurch, Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation, Criseida Hernandez, American Income Life, Wendy Tejeda, Doches CU, Amanda Gallegos, Doches CU, Kayla Moore, Doches CU, and Sherry Hellwig, Lufkin FCU. In the back row, from left are Vivien Standridge, Southland FCU, Carol Dunman, Angelina Federal Employees CU, Brandon Reavis, Lufkin FCU, and Sara Baker, Angelina Federal Employees CU. Not pictured is Katia Perez, Southland FCU.

The Pineywoods Chapter of Credit Unions teamed up with Stephen F. Austin (SFA) University’s Marleta Chadwick Student Financial Advisors and Center for Career and Development & Financial Aid for a hands-on, interactive reality fair to teach financial literacy to SFA students. The event was held April 3, from 1-4 p.m. at the Student Center Twilight Ballroom on the SFA Campus in Nacogdoches, Texas. This was the first college student reality fair for the Pineywoods Chapter of Credit Unions, and 180 students attended the event. When the doors opened at 1 p.m., students were lined up, waiting to attend.

“We had a steady flow of students throughout the day up until the cut off at 4 p.m. I was impressed by the enthusiasm presented from the credit union staff and student volunteers at each of the booths. Throughout the day I observed students challenging each other to see who could make it through the event without going over budget,” said Lufkin Federal Credit Union Loan Manager Sherry Hellwig.

Results pulled from a survey done at last week’s event, included:

  • 98 percent of the attendees said they were either “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the event; and
  • 98 percent of attendees said they were either “very likely” or “moderately likely” to recommend the event to other students.
Katie Perez in booth
Katie Perez with the Southland FCU helps an SFA student during the April 3 reality fair.
SFA students work through real-life budgets as part of a reality fair hosted by the Pineywoods Chapter of Credit Unions.

Student statements from the event, included:

  • “I liked how I was able to actually see my future budgets and realize how I need to save my money for my future lifestyle.”
  • “I wasn’t expecting it to be as fun as it was! Everyone volunteering at the booths made the experience so great.”
  • “It gave me a reality check about spending in my adult life.”
  • “It was a quick and easy way of learning budgeting techniques.”
  • “It was realistic and opened my eyes to real-life expenses.”

“We were thrilled with the response to the Financial Reality Fair. Our students overwhelmingly reported finding the event useful and would recommend it to their friends. Engaging our students in discussions about heavy topics, such as financial planning and budgeting, is not easy, and the effort by the representatives from the Pineywoods Chapter of Credit Unions was key in creating a fun learning experience for the attendees. We absolutely plan to repeat this event and continue this partnership in the future,” said SFA Center for Career and Professional Development Director Jamie Bouldin.