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Student Success Story


Diego Alvarez


Diego Alvarez grew up in Lynwood, a predominately Hispanic community in Southern California where gang violence and high school dropouts are an all-too-common reality. Despite these odds, Diego graduated from Firebaugh High School at the top 5% of his class in June 2010 – the same year the Center for Financial Empowerment chose to award him with a $1,000 college scholarship in our newly implemented scholarship program.


In order to qualify for our scholarship Diego completed a number of financial education courses, through which he learned about using a budget, loans and credit cards and paying for college. That knowledge has since served him well, as he explained to us in a recent interview.


When asked how our financial courses helped to prepare him to be more fiscally responsible, Diego says, “It really was useful because when I took out federal student loans I knew what I was getting into. Also, when I got my current job I already knew how to manage my income and create a spending budget.”


Now finishing up his degree in Political Science, he considers himself fortunate that he hasn’t had to take on too much student loan debt in order to pay for college. “I received some institutional scholarships and grants, so I didn’t have to borrow as much as other students do,” he recalls with a smile. Still, he regrets not doing more to actively look for scholarships when he was younger. “If I had taken more action, I wouldn’t have needed to take out any loans.” It’s this advice he offers to the younger teens still in high school. “Prepare as much as possible and look for every possible scholarship out there. Also, look for the best way to save on tuition and books, even if it means going to a school that is not your first choice.”


We think that’s great advice, and we’re proud to have played a part in Diego’s academic journey. If you know a teen that could benefit from financial education like Diego did, the online modules from our partners at BALANCE Financial Fitness are a good place to start.