The Kaplan Group is very excited to announce that Rebecca Strasser is this year’s $1,000 scholarship winner! Rebecca is beginning her first year as an MBA candidate at Gonzaga University. Rebecca was one of over 100 scholarship applicants many of whom submitted excellent responses to our essay prompts. With such stiff competition, Rebecca should be extremely proud!
The Kaplan Group’s annual scholarship was created in 2014 to expose aspiring students to the credit industry as a career possibility. Career opportunities within the credit industry require candidates possessing excellent communication and analytical skills. The entrants to the scholarship are highly motivated individuals pursuing their degrees and could potentially be excellent candidates for jobs in our industry.
The Kaplan Group has been in business for over 25 years and has proudly supported youth organizations and provided free educational opportunities within the credit industry throughout its history. The Kaplan Group’s website offers free ebooks and blog articles and our President, Dean Kaplan, is a recognized industry expert who has published articles and led industry sponsored seminars throughout the USA. We view our annual scholarship as another opportunity for us to give back to our community and continue to promote our industry.
We invited undergraduate and graduate students attending accredited 2 or 4 year colleges or universities in the USA to apply for the scholarship. Eligible fields of study were Business Administration, Economics, Finance, Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Law Management or MBA.
When Ms. Strasser was told that she had won the scholarship, she said, “It is an immense honor and gift to be the recipient of The Kaplan Group’s scholarship this year. It will allow me to continue pressing towards my goal of getting through graduate school debt free. Thank you so much!”
Rebecca responded to the following essay prompt, and her winning response is reprinted below:
Topic 1 – Tell us About a Personal Finance Experience
Successfully managing your personal finances can be key to a happy and successful life. Most of us have been challenged financially sometime during our lives. By sharing your story, we hope to be able to share tools that can help when our finances get out of control. Tell us about an experience in your life where you had to manage or learn how to manage your personal finances. What software or apps did you use? How did you use them? What did you do to keep or get your finances under control?
Rebecca Strasser’s Winning Essay:
Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” (Berger, 2014) As I face the largest purchase I will have ever made in the form of graduate school, this quote speaks to my need to roll up my sleeves and work hard to attain my goal of getting through school debt free. Dave Ramsey talks about the fact that the borrower is slave to the lender, and I believe this with all of my heart. I have witnessed the endless anxiety, stress, and worry that debt causes in people around me, and I want to live differently. I attribute my current debt- freedom to my parents who worked tirelessly to put me through undergraduate school at little cost to me, and this gift has instilled in me a sense of deep responsibility to honor their work by moving through my graduate program as debt- free as possible.
One of the best choices I made in my life was to move to Seattle, WA, after college, which forced me to figure out how to live on my own, get a good job, pay bills, and save money. While I am proud of the ownership I took of my finances in this season, I was only able to live at my means. Living in Seattle at a time when it was listed among the 5 most expensive cities for renters prevented me from being able to gain any notable traction in saving for future purchases. (Balk, 2017) This tension in my financial situation became the impetus for me to find an affordable graduate program. Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA, became the frontrunner in my search because it would allow me to have a lower cost of living, a lower cost of tuition, and be close to my family. The choice became clear, and I moved to Spokane.
Once in Spokane, I became more serious about wanting to budget and save in preparation for the incumbent MBA program. I began utilizing Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar app to budget my income and track all of my purchases. The thought is simple: give a name to every dollar of your income and you will then be telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. I found that tracking every single purchase gave me insight into where I spend my money and provided motivation to squeeze more savings out of the budget by spending less in other areas. Having a budget with an easy- to-use app has been essential in the sense of freedom and control I now have in handling my money, and I can’t wait to apply this skill to both graduate school and life after.
Through the EveryDollar Budgeting app, the motivation of reading Dave Ramsey literature, listening to Mr. Ramsey’s podcasts, and the gift of limited costs in my current living situation, I have been able to save enough cash to pay for my first semester. The rest of my tuition and living costs will come in the form of the aforementioned opportunity dressed in overalls and looking like work. I will be applying for a number of scholarships and continuing to work during the program, so that I will graduate debt free and ready to launch the next chapter of my life. Thank you for your consideration of supporting me in this journey to financial freedom and increased education. I can guarantee these funds would be the source of deep and lasting gratitude and that they would be used wisely and stretched as far as possible!
Berger, Rob. “Top 100 Money Quotes of All Time.” Forbes, Forbes Media, LLC, 30 April 2014, www.forbes.com/sites/robertberger/2014/04/30/top-100-money-quotes-of-all-time/#729d22fc4998.
Balk, Gene. “Seattle rents now rank among top 5 most expensive U.S.; Tacoma joins $1,000 club.” The Seattle Times, The Seattle Times, 7 December 2017, www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/data/seattle- rents-now-rank-among-top-5-most-expensive-in-u-s-tacoma-joins-1000-rent-club/.