Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA student financial advisors serve campus, community

September 17, 2015 - University Marketing Communications
Several students in Stephen F. Austin State University's Nelson Rusche College of Business serve as Marleta Chadwick Student Financial Advisors. The advisors counsel clients on financial matters free of charge Monday through Friday through walk-ins and appointments in a new office space in the McGee Building, Room 169 and also are available to give presentations to community and campus organizations. The new office space and program expansion are the result of a recent gift to the university by the Marleta Chadwick Trust. The gift resulted in the naming of the Marleta Chadwick Student Financial Advisors, as well as the Chadwick Family Banking Program at SFA. Pictured back row, from left: Marleta Chadwick Financial Advisors Corey Belcher and Brian Cook; Dr. Banker Phares, SFA economics and finance professor and director of the financial banking program; and advisor Clark Taylor. Front row from left: advisor Flo Soto; SFA graduate and founding member Jenny Rosales; advisor Mi-Kayla Lemon; and SFA graduate and founding member Antonio Badillo.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Stephen F. Austin State University's Marleta Chadwick Student Financial Advisors' benefits are twofold. Not only do the advisors offer students and the community free financial advice and money management tips, but advisors also are practicing skills that will benefit them once they leave the university and begin their careers.

The Nelson Rusche College of Business created the Student Financial Advisors organization in 2014 to emphasize financial literacy and smart money management to help people dealing with financial crises. The advisors assist individuals with budgeting, credit card and debt management, identity theft, and fraud.

Student director and SFA business administration graduate student Brian Cook has been with the program since its inception and is looking forward to the program's development. "We counsel people financially. We help them make smarter decisions and realize the impact these decisions have on their lives," Cook said.

Four student assistants work alongside Cook as student advisors. Mi-Kayla Lemon, Clark Taylor and Flo Soto specialize in community efforts, while Corey Belcher and Cook focus on the SFA campus. In addition, Soto handles Web and media projects and Belcher is in charge of the organization's social media presence. Cook said the increase in student advisors should yield more workshops this semester.

The five-member group shares their financial knowledge through presentations to community and campus organizations, groups, and teams. Women's and homeless shelters, United Way, and churches are some of the organizations the advisors assist.

The advisors also reach out to students at both SFA and beyond. Lemon explained the organization works with Center High School students to help them prepare for the real world, and at SFA, the advisors talk to SFA 101 freshmen seminar and other students to help educate them on financial issues.

"I feel students have a closer connection with us because we can relate to them," Lemon said. "It's a good feeling to see the transformation when students understand their financial situation."

Recently, the organization moved into a new office on the first floor of the R. E. McGee Building, Room 169. This location has a reception area and private offices for each advisor to counsel individuals on sensitive financial issues.

Cook said the new location also enables advisors to meet with walk-in clients. Walk-ins are welcome from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to noon Fridays. Visitors also can schedule advising appointments.

"It is an easy process. Clients can come in and fill out a quick form telling us the area they want to focus on," Lemon said. "It takes less than 20 minutes."

Cook encourages visitors to partake in this free service and stresses that the advisors have all been in their shoes and know the struggles they may be facing.

"We have people from all walks of life come here. We never talk down to or judge anyone," Cook said. "We are here to help and genuinely want to meet our clients' needs."

Dr. Banker Phares, SFA economics and finance professor and director of the financial banking program, is impressed with the students' work and dedication. "Their commitment to helping others reassures me that this generation of students is going to make a significant and positive contribution to society," Phares said.

The office and program's growth is a result of a recent gift to the university by the Marleta Chadwick Trust. This gift resulted in the naming of the Marleta Chadwick Student Financial Advisors, as well as the Chadwick Family Banking Program within the Nelson Rusche College of Business.

"We are so appreciative of the generosity of the Chadwick Family, as these programs will support hands-on learning experiences that are very beneficial to our students and will be an asset to the entire community," Dr. Tim Bisping, dean of the Nelson Rusche College of Business, said.

The gift also will support a scholarship program for Center High School graduates who wish to pursue degrees in either SFA's James I. Perkins College of Education or the Nelson Rusche College of Business.

"We have a great relationship with the Chadwick family and this has opened so many doors," Cook said. "Having the capital to set long-term budgets, goals and grow the program as needed is great."

To take advantage of the free services and schedule an appointment, email student.financial.advisors.sfa@gmail.com. Request a presentation by accessing sfastudentfinancialadvisors.wordpress.com and click on the "Request a Presentation" tab.