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Kathleen Payea has worked for the College Board since 1998. She currently serves as a policy analyst for two publications: Education Pays and Trends in Student Aid. Ms. Payea was an invited guest at Scholarship America’s most recent board meeting in New York, where she spoke about the positive outcomes of college completion for individuals and society.
Tell us about how you became interested in postsecondary education access and affordability.
I started my career in higher ed administration. For the first 15 years I worked at different types of colleges—from very large public institutions to very small private colleges. I really enjoyed working in financial aid. Then after relocation, I went to the College Board and worked in their financial aid services area, and most of my work became very technical in nature—writing formulas, testing software, and doing some light analysis. I also started working on the college cost analysis. As time went by, I changed the scope of my life, and I no longer wanted to work full time. College Board asked me to work on the two publications: Education Pays and Trends in Student Aid. I’ve been doing that since 1998.
I come from a long line of women who have strong beliefs about our social consciousness. My mom is a social worker and my sister is a nurse. I’m really concerned about people having access to improvements in their life and to bettering their future.
There’s been a lot of discussion about the cost of postsecondary education in relation to the actual value of a college degree. Is getting a college degree still worth the expense?
Every piece of evidence that we have points to the fact that getting a college education is of great value. It’s of great value even for those students who don’t complete their degrees. One thing that we did in Education Pays is that we looked at the idea that everyone talks about: the higher your degree, the more you earn. Certainly the more education you have, the less likely you are to be unemployed.
But what we asked in Education Pays was, “What about per year?” Even by individual year of schooling, for every additional year of education you have, your hourly wage goes up. For every year of schooling, there is something that you learn and a set of skills that improve. Job satisfaction also improves. You’ll be happier in your job and healthier in your life as your education increases. Is it worth it? Yes.
What advice do you have to students about to enter college? Should they choose a major they love, or choose one that pays off for them in the long run?
We look at information by majors and by starting salaries to try and understand debt level, but in terms of making choices, that conversation I don’t have an opinion about. It’s hard to make these decisions and it’s a deeply personal choice. You could have the same conversation about education choice. Should I go to a community college or a public? But in terms of making a good consumer choice for your education, you do have to look at these factors: What is my major? If I choose a certain type of institution, can I have the same amount of access to my classes? How long will I take to graduate? There are so many factors, and there are good tools that can help you figure out what the likelihood is of completing a certain degree in x amount of years, what amount of student aid is available, etc. Gathering this information is so important; these are very important considerations that families and students have to look at.
What is the biggest benefit of an educated populace? Why does being the “most educated” country even matter?
There is a basic human interest to be and do our best – to live to our fullest potential and help those less fortunate.
To sustain a competitive economy, we need to constantly train and re-train our work force. The best jobs and companies gravitate to countries, communities and states with a highly qualified workforce. Of course, some of this requires us to constantly assess our education system. Recent literature that is coming out from the Department of Labor says that a need exists for adults to be retrained – different areas of jobs have gone overseas, and other jobs are becoming obsolete. If we’re going to keep our manufacturing jobs and continue to grow our economy, there are certain areas in which people need to be educated.
We’re changing our idea as to what “earning a degree” means – and alternatives to traditional four-year degrees make perfect sense, including community colleges and trade schools. It’s always good to try and improve ourselves.
Indiana Dollars for Scholars Hoosier Hero Winner Megan Durochik
LIFELONG DOLLARS FOR SCHOLARS VOLUNTEER WINS SCHOLARSHIP
Megan Durochik was only six years old when she began volunteering for her local Dollars for Scholars chapter in Indiana. Her mother, Betty, was an active volunteer and eventually went on to become president of Lake Central Dollars for Scholars.
Working side by side, mother and daughter would fold scholarship applications, stamp and stuff envelopes, and attend chapter meetings together. As she got older, Megan began participating in the chapter fundraising events, such as selling baked goods at the annual muffin sale and helping to organize the rummage sale. Participating in Dollars for Scholars taught Megan the value of volunteering for something you believe in, as well as the importance of scholarships for students who want to achieve their dream of going to college.
But it wasn’t just Dollars for Scholars that helped shape the person Megan is today. Longtime family friend Courtney Crozier also served as a major inspiration for Megan. Courtney had struggled with obesity since she was a child and endured many stereotypes and faced many obstacles throughout her life. But her outgoing personality and drive to succeed helped her face this challenge head-on. Determined to change her lifestyle and get her weight under control, Courtney auditioned to be a contestant on the show, The Biggest Loser. After auditioning for the show four times, Courtney was finally invited to participate. With the help of The Biggest Loser, Courtney has lost a total of 232 pounds so far. She has inspired others around her to lead healthier lifestyles through her new mentoring program, and is also opening up her own yogurt shop, which will feature low-fat, low-sugar frozen yogurt.
“Courtney is such an inspiration to me because of her character, positive mental attitude, and selflessness. She has an astounding passion in paying it forward to accomplish something she strongly believes in. When I think of Courtney and all she has accomplished for herself, I say to myself, ‘Never give up, never back down,’ because dreams do come true,” Megan said.
Courtney was such an inspiration to Megan that she chose to nominate her as an Indiana Hoosier Hero. The annual scholarship program, sponsored by Indiana Dollars for Scholars, gives Indiana students an opportunity to apply for one of ten $2,000 scholarships. High school juniors or seniors are invited to write an essay about living Indiana residents who serve as an inspiration to them and others. The “heroes” also receive a $2,000 scholarship to designate to the Indiana high school of their choice.
Megan and Courtney were both thrilled when they found out the essay was chosen and Courtney would officially become an Indiana Hoosier Hero.
Dollars for Scholars lifelong volunteer and scholarship recipient,
Megan Durochik, with Hoosier Hero, Courtney Crozier
“It’s really touching to receive this scholarship. Courtney was so proud of me and happy that she won, too. We were both thrilled. Words can’t even describe it,” Megan said.
Megan’s mother, Betty, was equally appreciative, especially after all the years she and her daughter spent working together as Dollars for Scholars volunteers.
“For my daughter to be a [Dollars for Scholars scholarship] recipient…is very touching to us. Our family has gladly donated hundreds of hours of time over 10-plus years to help many other students receive scholarships. Now to be fortunate to be on the receiving end is a true blessing. As a parent, I would like to say thank you for caring about our children and helping them to achieve their dreams. Tomorrow is here. Their education will carry them beyond tomorrow and for that I am truly thankful.”
(Visit hoosierheroes.org to read Megan's winning essay!)
In 2009, energy veterans Kerry Breitbart and Carey Turnbull saw an opportunity to help both energy customers and the environment, and they founded North American Power with those goals in mind. Today, North American Power is one of the fastest-growing energy suppliers in the country, and is on Forbes’ list of America’s Most Promising Companies.
North American Power takes advantage of energy deregulation to give their customers the power to choose who supplies their energy – and to save money doing so. While the customer is still billed and serviced by their local utility, their supply is provided by North American Power.
North American Power is dedicated to improving America’s energy independence by providing consumers with greater access to homegrown renewable energy. Every customer who switches to North American Power automatically chooses 25% renewable energy and has the choice to upgrade to 100% renewable energy.
In April 2011, North American Power made a bold
commitment to giving back with the launch of its ongoing
philanthropic initiative, Mission to Millions, which allows customers to direct North American Power funds to deserving charities each month when they pay their bill. Through Mission to Millions, the company has already given nearly $100,000 to partner organizations – including Scholarship America.
The company currently serves customers in deregulated energy markets including Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania with plans to expand to additional markets and introduce natural gas service in 2012. For more information, visit www.napower.com/m2m.
THE TOP FIVE WAYS YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
Number Five: Like us, follow
us, and spread the word!
Show your support by liking and following our Facebook and Twitter pages, then tell others to do the same. And by sharing our posts, you’ll be giving valuable scholarship advice to the students in your life.
Number Four: Share your
scholarship story with us!
Were you fortunate enough to receive a scholarship from Dollars for Scholars or another Scholarship America
program? We want to hear from you! Share your story on myscholarshipstory.org.
Number Three: Volunteer in your community!
We invite you to volunteer at the local or national level. Contact the national office (800-279-2083) or find your local Dollars for Scholars chapter here. Our volunteers come together in communities across America to work on behalf of local students – and they’re always looking for more help!
Number Two: Start a Dollars
for Scholars chapter.
We believe that every community can benefit from a Dollars for Scholars chapter. If you don’t have a chapter
in your community, we encourage you to start one! Learn more by calling 800- 537-4180.
Number One: Help make
students’ dreams come true
with a monetary gift.
Your gift makes a huge difference in the lives of students. A gift of just $1 a day – for a week, for a month, or for a year – can help ensure that students are able to achieve their goals. To give, visit scholarshipamerica.org/
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