The Financial Wellness Hub inside East Carolina University’s Main Campus Student Center has expanded its staff and hopes to continue to contribute to the financial well-being of students through one-on-one academic coaching, programs as well as courses throughout the summer and fall of 2021.
Rachel Anthony, director of the ECU Financial Wellness Hub, said the hub aims to assist students with their financial needs. Anthony said the Financial Wellness Hub was established in the spring 2021 semester and has had 66 one-on-one contacts with students, either in person or virtually.
Anthony said 28 programs, presentations, workshops and classroom visits made up the majority of their influence, with 596 students total involved. She said the Financial Wellness Hub has also expanded its staff, with a peer-to-peer financial advisor, Davis Whitfield. Anthony said the Financial Wellness Hub’s programs and classes will be available to students on the Engage website in the fall semester.
“I think going into next (fall 2021) semester, it's just kind of all about continuing our growth, so for the fall, for example, I'll be working with COAD (Counselor Education) 1000, working a bit potentially with Health 1000, working a little bit with athletics. I think for fall, it’s just continuing to grow,” Anthony said. “We had a really great spring semester, and I’m just hoping to get the word out to even more students that we’re here and available.”
The Financial Wellness Hub’s peer educator programs are meant to provide ECU students with other students to discuss financial problems, plans and growth. The peer educators, she said, provide coaching on financial topics like credit cards or credit scores. Anthony said she will try to add more peer educators and she hopes to add two to three more for the upcoming fall 2021 semester.
Anthony said the Financial Wellness Hub will hold a number of programs throughout the 2021-2022 school year, such as Find Your Financial Footing on Sept. 1 at 4 p.m. The program aims to help students find good financial practices to start their fall semester’s finances well.
Another program, Anthony said, is aimed at financial wellness for healthcare professionals, and a virtual program called The Future of Money and Personal Finance will be held on Sept. 23 about Cryptocurrency and looking into the future of finance.
“I think the big thing for me that is exciting about my work is that everybody uses money,” Anthony said. “There’s really not a student on this campus that can’t benefit from increased financial wellness, you know, everybody has a financial habit that they could learn more about or, you know, make financial decisions that are more beneficial for them, and so I think that’s kind of the big takeaway.”
Davis Whitfield, junior finance major, said he was hired the week of June 7 by the Financial Wellness Hub as a peer-to-peer financial educator. Whitfield said he is excited and feels the importance of being able to educate students about financial wellness.
ECU, Whitfield said, is one of the only universities in the state with a Financial Wellness Hub for its students, the other being the University of North Carolina Charlotte.
Whitfield said his job is to help students prepare for the financial world, both while they are at ECU as well as when they are in the workforce. Whitfield said there is a lack of education on personal finances and he thinks it’s important people know how to handle things such as debt and financial growth.
“We have a lot of programs that we’re working on, a lot of new ideas that we’re trying to implement in the upcoming school year, just to really get our name out there, and get students excited about learning about how to deal with their finances while they’re in college and after college,” Whitfield said.
Lucy Anna Shaeffer, junior business major, said ECU students should learn and be aware of all financial responsibilities throughout college, but especially before they graduate and enter the professional career field. She said being financially stable in life is one of the utmost important aspects when it comes to the adult world.
Shaeffer said the Financial Wellness Hub is a beneficial resource for all ECU students and she encourages everyone to scope out the hub and participate.
“Not all (ECU) students are business majors or know about financial things, stocks, taxes, how to budget and save money, how to buy a house or just basically know how to live on their own and be financially stable,” Shaeffer said. “The (Financial Wellness) hub will really help students learn and understand how to live and survive in the real world.”
Shaeffer said she will participate within the Financial Wellness Hub throughout the fall 2021 semester. She said the hub will help her expand her knowledge about her current and future financial state, and she will also be able to learn new things that she may not have known before.
The Financial Wellness Hub, Shaeffer said, is a great addition to ECU and she looks forward to being able to participate and learn new information.
“I think things such as finances are really an important aspect students should really take the time to learn and invest their time into,” Shaeffer said. “I am willing to help all students. I will be at the (Financial Wellness) hub constantly, and I know some people will definitely have questions. The staff, of course, will be there, but if they (students) want another student to talk to, I will be there with open ears.”
Stan Eakins, professor of Finance at ECU said that while he has no affiliation with the Financial Wellness Hub, he encourages students to use its services. Eakins said that there are a lot of things that students need to know in order to ensure their financial wellness.
Eakins said that in the past, companies would manage their employees’ retirement funds, but, since companies often no longer offer services like pension plans, it’s up to individuals to manage their finances.
“Very intelligent people are expected to handle a difficult task that they have zero training in and aren’t really even expecting to have to have that responsibility, but it’s there,” Eakins said. “And students can get into (financial) trouble without really even knowing they’ve gotten into trouble so I’m very pleased to hear that the (Financial Wellness) hub is open and I hope the students take advantage of it.”
Financial wellness is also taught as an elective at ECU, Eakins said, a program that he helped begin in the 2000s as the Chair of the Department of Finance at ECU. Eakins said that while the Financial Wellness Hub’s services are a good starting point, there is much more to know that could be taught in seminars or coaching sessions.
He said while he supports the Financial Wellness Hub, he strongly encourages students to take the Department of Finance’s elective on financial wellness to expand their financial knowledge as well.
“I would also urge them, an evening session is not going to substitute for a semester-long course. That’s also available,” Eakins said.