Remarks from Ms. Ellyson at this year's awards dinner reminds us all of why we do work with youth. Her remarks are repeated here for your information.
Remarks from Leah Ellyson, 2009 Winner, NFCC Financial Literacy Poster Contest
Delivered at Jump$tart Coalition Awards Dinner
Good evening. My name is Leah Ellyson. It is an honor to have my poster chosen as the national winner of the 2009 Financial Literacy Poster Contest. I am grateful to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling for providing me with this exciting opportunity. I am a junior at North Marion High School and am from the small town of Carolina, West Virginia, but that has never stopped me from having big dreams. On my poster, I state the four things I would do to become a millionaire. That is how I intend to pursue all of my dreams: by breaking them down into smaller, more manageable steps.
When I sat down and thought about financial responsibility and what it meant to me, I didn't have to look any further than my parents. They have taught me a lot about financial responsibility over the years. This summer, I got my first job at McDonalds. I could have easily spent my paychecks in one afternoon at the mall if I hadn't been encouraged to pay myself first. My parents have invested in my college education since I was born. They are encouraging me to work hard for scholarships so that I will incur as little debt as possible when I am out of college. For years, my parents have set a budget for our family and we have lived within it. I see that they never spend more than they make, and they always stress to me that they only use credit cards as a convenience. The basic outline on my poster follows the common sense rules that they have modeled for me.
One thing I didn't mention on my poster but that I think is just as important is giving. Whether it is to your church, a favorite charity or someone in need, the benefits that come from sharing part of your income for a worthwhile cause can't always be measured in dollars and cents.
I believe financial responsibility is for everyone; not just parents or adults. It begins at a young age so that good habits can be carried on throughout a lifetime. It has been a privilege to be able to share my ideas and be a positive role model in this area.
It remains to be seen whether or not I become a millionaire but I am wealthy in many ways: I have a family who loves and supports me, inspiration all around me, and a God-given talent that has taken me from drawing a picture at my kitchen table and turning it in to a great experience like this. Thank you.
Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy