My Financial Literacy Project
One of the things that attracted me to NC State’s MAC program was the focus on their financial literacy outreach program. All students not going through recruiting in the fall are required to participate in a financial literacy project. Many of my classmates this year volunteered at NCACPA’s “Making Cents,” a one day activity sponsored by the NCAPCPA to promote financial literacy for students grades seven through 12 and their parents.
Alternatively, many students chose to volunteer with Junior Achievement (JA) to complete the financial literacy project. Junior Achievement has developed a number of programs to help students understand economic and financial issues at age-appropriate levels. I was hesitant to take on a full day of teaching elementary students, but the materials provided by Junior Achievement are fabulous. They provided all the materials for activities and clearly delineated everything we needed to cover for each lesson.
I taught five lessons of the JA program with my friend and classmate, Kenya Iloka. We were assigned to a fifth grade classroom at a local elementary school. When we met to prepare for the lessons, we were amazed at what JA expected the fifth graders to learn. We were supposed to teach them globalization, opportunity cost, and entrepreneurship in a single day.
To our surprise, the students caught on quickly. We began each lesson with a brief description of terms and concepts. Then we broke the students into groups to perform an activity that further explained one of the concepts. At the end of each lesson, we reviewed what we covered and had the students describe it in their own words. To teach entrepreneurship, we explained all the costs associated with starting a business. In groups, the students picked a product or service they would sell if they were starting their own business and created an advertisement for it. To visualize globalization, we had the students stand in a circle around the room. Each held a card with a description of one stage in the process of manufacturing a car. I stood in the middle and had students pass a ball of twine back and forth as we read how materials used for the car traveled all over the world, like our own ball of twine. The students quickly caught on to the concept of globalization and were even more delighted to entangle me in the center of the mess of string at the end of the activity.
Although I truly value financial and economic education for young students, I likely would not have had the impetus to volunteer with Junior Achievement or Making Sense of my own accord. Grad school is difficult and time consuming, and unfortunately volunteering was not at the forefront of my mind this semester.
However, I am glad that the NC State MAC program requires its students to fulfill this financial literacy volunteer project. It was an important reminder that no matter how busy you may be, there is always time to give back to others. No other MAC program that I encountered in my grad school search championed service and community involvement the way NC State has. The Jenkins MAC program not only provides an excellent accounting education, but instills a sense of responsibility and generosity in its students.