MasterCard intern serves as student finance instructor

Krystal Penrose is on a mission to make every student “credit wise” by the time they begin their second year at Central Michigan University.

The Clinton Township senior is an intern for MasterCard, which involves delivering multiple “Are You Credit Wise” presentations at CMU throughout the semester to aid students with financial literacy.

She is also working with the public relations company Weber Shandwick.

“I reached out to this internship because it is a really hot topic right now,” she said. “I think CMU has been really looking for something like this ... It can really open up students’ eyes so they can see what they’re really spending.”

Penrose is one of 12 interns across the country. She has been working with Jason Bentley, director of First Year Experience, Dean of Students Bruce Roscoe and Michelle Howard, director of academic advising and assistance.

Roscoe got involved when he received a letter from MasterCard informing him Penrose had been selected as an intern. He said he contacted her and wanted to support her.

“The topic is extremely important,” Roscoe said. “I think she is going to be effective with her audience because students listen closely when the advice comes from a peer.”

Penrose is working with Bentley to create a module video which includes the main aspects of the Credit Wise program. They will be shown in all FYE classes, even after Penrose graduates.

Penrose is targeting freshmen because she believes it is better to teach students good credit habits when they are younger.

“Now that I’ve already taken out $25,000 in loans, I wish I would have known about this program three years earlier,” she said.

Adding up

Penrose said she now looks at the big picture and sees consequences for everything she buys — even things as small as the daily cup of coffee.

During her presentations, Penrose presents several statistics.

About 84 percent of college students own a credit card and most own more than four. Eighty percent of those do not pay off their balance each month.

The students become involved in the presentation by writing down how much money they think they spent on food alone in the past week in provided notebooks, then multiplying it by 52.

Many students were surprised to find they will spend about $2,000 on food by the end of this year.

Roscoe looks at the program as a learning tool to see what students respond to, what they want and what they need.

“We need to learn as much as we can from her program, then explore what to do with that knowledge,” Roscoe said.

Although her goal is for freshman orientations to include a required financial literacy course or workshop at CMU, she is not stopping there.

“I would love to bring it to the government and make this a requirement for every university in the country,” Penrose said.

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