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SCH Junior Wins Financial Literacy Essay Contest


Nailah Wheeler ’20 put her two cents in for a financial literacy essay contest and won first prize sponsord by Harrisburg University.  Nailah beat out more than 50 other students in Pennsylvania and received a prize of $500 at a ceremony held at the University recently.

The SCH junior was encouraged to write the essay for Harrisburg University School of Science and Technology’s competition at the behest of her mother, an entrepreneur who helps people start their own business and runs a summer camp for kids called Youth & Money, where they learn how to write a business plan.

“It was a boost of confidence,” Nailah said about the first place award, which comes with a $500 prize. “[I learned to] not be afraid to enter more things, because you never know!”

A few pieces of advice she has for other young people are to be patient with their money, to take control of their money so they can have the freedom to do the things they want to do, and to value their money. “Especially when you make your own money, you value it more,” she said.

Prior to this essay, Nailah said she realized she had underestimated her knowledge about financial literacy. In reality, she has learned a lot from her own experiences saving money from jobs, from her experiences helping kids learn about finances at her mother’s summer camp, and also through SCH’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) classes on finances and saving. She has also gained experience with teaching a budgeting activity to the girls’ TRACK program, which is sponsored by the City’s Support Community Outreach Program. She and another youth instructor taught a group of 20 girls about how to budget and live on their own. With $2,000, the girls were asked to participate in an exercise about how to manage their money for utilities, rent, health care, transportation, and more.

Nailah has also saved money from her work at the nearby Trolley Car Diner over the summer, as well as babysitting. She tries to save as much as possible so she can be self-sufficient and doesn’t have to reach out to her parents for money.

“Over time, I have learned that budgeting my money for different needs will help me to make sure I am not spending my money on things I don’t necessarily need,” Nailah wrote in the essay.

In addition to her financial acumen, Nailah is also gifted with kids and hopes to one day become a pediatric nurse. At SCH, she is also involved in the student facilitators group, which trains in cultural competency and diversity leadership. Polly Kimberly, SCH’s associate director of college counseling who knows Nailah through her work with the student facilitators group, described Nailah as “sensitive, insightful, and willing to speak up for her convictions and on behalf of those unable to speak for themselves.”

Nailah personifies some of SCH’s core values: she demonstrates courage in her work with student facilitators, she shows resilience (and patience) in her efforts to earn and save money, and she has embodied thoughtfulness in her efforts to help teach others about financial literacy.