NARCA Announces 2012 Financial Literacy Scholarship Winners

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The National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys (NARCA) announced today that it has awarded college scholarships to three students who best described why financial literacy education should be included in the High School curriculum and provided suggestions of ways to gain greater acceptance of the topic by school administrators.  The awards were based on the students’ essays that were evaluated upon their originality, clarity and insight into the subject matter.

The Scholarship Judges were Xenia Murphy (Midland Credit Management), Marilyn Cooper (Ford Motor Credit), Peter Klipa (Discover Financial Services), Tim Collins (Hyundai Capital) and Brad McCurnin (Harvest Strategy Group, Inc.), Don Redmond (Portfolio Recovery Associates, Inc.), Robert Foehl (Target) and Matt Russell (TRAKAmerica).

Kelsey Pagh, who is studying for her Master’s Degree at Princeton Theological Seminary, was awarded a $5,000 scholarship for her informative and imaginative essay that followed the challenges faced by fictional “Sarah Parker,” a 17-year old beginning her senior year of college.  Kelsey observed that students like Sarah need educators to “be made aware of the glaring problem of financial illiteracy in society, must be made to realize that high school students are at the prime time and place in life to learn how to manage personal finances, and must join forces with the administrators of other states that have adopted required personal finance courses and standards into their curriculum.”  Kelsey suggested that by “working with states that have already made financial literacy classes a requirement and by seeking advice from organizations such as NARCA, Jump$tart, and the Credit Union National Association, school administrators can begin to implement effective curriculum methodologies concerning this important issue.”

Shannon Saldutti was awarded $1,000 for her essay on financial literacy.  Shannon is studying nursing at Widener University in Pennsylvania.  She observed the “historic growth of our economy and in essence our country’s growth, has been driven by the effective and proper use of credit.  Inherent in this use of credit is its use in a fiscally responsible manner.”  Shannon concluded “[t]he effective and efficient use of credit must be part of our education reform package.  As societies become more complex, global and advanced, the need for financial education is paramount.”

Abigail Reinhard is studying Engineering at Penn State University and was awarded $1,000 for her essay in which she suggested a high school curriculum “that touched on mortgage financing, loan information, and interest rates; it should cover debit cards overdraft protection and insufficient funds.  It should teach us that even though a check was deposited Monday, the funds might not be available until Thursday.  The curriculum should explain debit card fees as well as gift card activation fees.”

Comments from the judges included:

  • “The essayists of NARCA’s 2012 Financial Literacy Scholarship contest demonstrated their understanding of this important topic and I appreciated the originality they brought to the topic. The perspective each person brought will enable the participants to continue to positively impact others.”

  • “I was really impressed with the insight and creativity in all of the essays I read.”

  • “The quality of responses from essay participants was very good.  Their passion and creativity were on full display.”

  • “I found the essays to be well written with some fascinating ideas on how we can make a change at the High School Administration level and what the change should look like. After reading the essays it really gave me hope for our financial future.”

  • “The students feel there is a void in the educational system with regard to understanding basic financial products.  NARCA is doing a great public service by raising awareness and providing education on this important topic of debt management and personal finance.”

Avoiding the Debt Trap is a presentation specifically tailored to the younger audience and designed to teach the importance of proper credit habits.  The presentation is given by NARCA members in their own communities and is free to all attendees.  Avoiding the Debt Trap explores key concepts in budgeting, credit, math, consumer finance and debt management and helps young adults understand consumer credit and debt, how to stay out of financial trouble and what to do if they get behind.  For information about Avoiding the Debt Trap, please contact debttrap@narca.org.

The National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys (NARCA) is a nationwide trade association of over 700 skilled debt collection law firms and in‐house counsel of creditors.  NARCA’s members are required to adhere to a strict Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics.  Each attorney employed by a NARCA law firm member is licensed by one or more state’s highest court and is governed by Rules of Professional Conduct that are enforced by a mandatory grievance procedure.  NARCA members are committed to the fair and ethical treatment of all participants in the debt collection process.

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