LeBow Prof Wins Community Impact Award

Jodi Cataline struggled with money throughout her college career. It almost kept her from completing her Drexel degree. Now, after years working on Wall Street and the LeBow faculty, she was recognized for her personal commitment to helping young people learn from her financial mistakes.

On October 8, the West Philadelphia Financial Services Institution (WPFSI) presented her with the Catherine Minnis Community Impact Award for her work educating local high school students on financial literacy through the WesGold Fellows internship program.

Cataline is an associate clinical professor in the Department of General Business and 1990 LeBow graduate in finance. She worked with the West Philadelphia-based WPFSI this summer to educate a group of 14 high school juniors and seniors on personal finance.

The program was hosted at the Drexel Dornsife Center at 35th and Spring Garden streets and is an eight-week experience that “equips high school students with the skills required to negotiate their way to positive, rewarding and prosperous lives.” It focused on teaching life skills such as professional development, college planning and social responsibility. Cataline presented financial literacy information each Tuesday based on material developed from the National Endowment for Financial Education.

She shares that it is her own experience with finances during young adulthood that drives her work with the WesGold Scholars as well as college students in her 2-credit personal finance course (BUSN 103: Individual Financial Strategy) and student organization presentations.

“Any financial mistake I could make in college and beyond was a mistake I made,” she says. “I graduated with tons of credit card debt and student loans.”

Following graduation from Drexel, Cataline worked at Citibank and JP Morgan, where she gained valuable financial knowledge that helped her both personally and professionally. When she joined the LeBow faculty in 2000, she was determined to offer a personal finance course for college students, so they could avoid many of the mistakes she had made.

“Basically what my idea was for this class was to teach all of the things that were never taught to me that I thought were valuable in life. I teach them about credit scores, credit reports, credit cards, student loans, car payments, mortgages and how to invest.”

It was this 2-credit elective and a former student from the class that first connected Cataline with nonprofits in the Philadelphia area and eventually with WPFSI, who offers programs on financial literacy for community members. WPFSI partnered with the WesGold Fellows program in 2007 to support their efforts in preparing high school students for life.

The WesGold workshops focused on much of the same content as her Drexel course. Because the WesGold Fellows receive payment for participation in the program, her material was especially useful. In order to encourage good financial decisionmaking and planning, the fellows were required to save a portion of each paycheck and were offered an incentive in the form of a scholarship if they saved more than the required minimum. Sadly, none of the students receive the additional scholarship. But for many of the students, this was their first time receiving a paycheck and they learned valuable life lessons.

In the end, Cataline knows she cannot reach everyone but hopes to make an impact on at least one person through her work, on campus and off.

“My goal in life, outside of my professional responsibilities, is to get through to somebody, to empower and educate anybody who is willing to learn what it means to have control over that aspect of their life, because finances are so critical.”

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