Celestine Taieb loves spending time outdoors. A junior at Northern Arizona University majoring in parks and recreation management, Celestine says outdoor activities provide her motivation to stay active and positive of mind. They also remind her to keep her life in balance.

To be able to continue the activities she loves, like hiking and rock climbing, you have to take care of yourself, stay healthy, eat well, and get enough sleep. You have to overcome your fears, accept failure, and keep climbing.

It’s a perfect metaphor for being in college, and for life, she says.

For Celestine, keeping things in balance has been the greatest impact of participating in Earn to Learn. With financial education and an 8 to 1 match on her savings, Earn to Learn has enabled Celestine to worry less about her finances and spend more of her energy on campus activities that are preparing her for life after college.

“It’s important to understand what happens with your own finances,” she says. “I don’t think that money should be your priority, but if you have a good handle on it and you know the basics, you can manage your money to have what you need.”

Celestine says Earn to Learn has been critical help to her in “alleviating the financial stress and allowing me to do really cool things in college,” she says. ”It’s one less thing to worry about.”

By alleviating the financial stress she has been able to serve as a Community Mentor for Residence Life and been chosen among the inaugural cohort of Presidential Leadership Fellows at NAU. This group meets with campus leaders and receives extra training in professional skills, decision-making, and leadership.

In her job as a Community Mentor, Celestine is using her experience and knowledge to help 28 freshmen make a successful transition into college.

Balancing academics with your social life, a job, your health, and other commitments requires time-management skills she has refined as an Earn to Learn student saver. “It’s hard fitting all that into a schedule,” she says, “but you have to stay focused on what’s good for you.”

She urges other students to follow her example and use a planner. Not only does it help her stay organized and remember important tasks, it gives her a sense of accomplishment when she has completed one. “I love making lists and crossing things out,” she says.

In addition to mentoring younger students, Celestine is involved as a volunteer with Latino Outdoors, a nonprofit that connects Latino families and communities with nature and outdoor experiences.

Celestine, who started saving with Earn to Learn after hearing about it at a college fair in high school, is a disciplined saver.  “[The program] forces me to save money and get in the habit of making a monthly deposit at the bank,” she says.

Between work, Earn to Learn, and other scholarships, Celestine says she is on track to graduate with no student debt.

When she graduates, she wants to work “educating people about doing outdoor recreation while taking care of scenic and beautiful places.”

Posted 11.1.17