By: Deidre Hicks
When Gabi Bokretsion was in high school, little did she know that her participation in VyStar’s High School Credit Union Branch Program at Jacksonville’s Ribault High School would lead her to a career path in marketing. A few years later, while she was in college and needing a job, Gabi recalled her experience in the program with fondness and applied for a full-time position as a teller at VyStar’s Chaffee Pointe branch in 2015—a job for which she was quickly hired. Now, at age 23 and after graduating from the University of North Florida, Gabi was recently promoted to Marketing Specialist at VyStar’s Corporate Headquarters.
VyStar began the High School Credit Union Branch Program in 2006 to help bring more financial education to the youth in the communities we serve. After 12 years, the program now boasts 14 in-school branches—the most recent one having been opened at Yulee High School this August—that are run by the students and managed alongside the schools’ VyStar Academy of Business and Finance faculty. Prior to the start of every new school year, students work hard to be accepted into this prestigious program, which teaches them about money management and gives them hands-on professional experience they simply won’t find in the classroom. This real-world training can also help guide students on a path to a rewarding career—just like it did for Gabi.
As Gabi’s co-worker in the marketing department, I am impressed by her initiative and quickness in adapting to a new department with a maturity beyond her years. She says that being able to take part in the real-life work experiences provided by the High School Branch Program helped her adjust to workplace expectations both in the branch and in marketing. So, I sat down with Gabi to ask her some more questions about her experience with the program and how it helped guide her to where she is today. This is what she had to say:
GABI: It was a chance to get a jump start on my future at a young age. Knowing that the program focuses on teaching financial literacy, I saw it as a chance to learn for myself as well as teach others. I’ve always enjoyed helping people, so I knew that it was a great opportunity.
As a teller, you get many questions from other coworkers as well as members. There have been times where I was able to help coworkers complete a task or think things through strategically based on the tasks that I had to complete in the high school program.
Members often come to tellers about issues or scenarios involving their teens. With the knowledge I gained in the VyStar Academy, I had the extra insight to be able to understand the needs of families with teens even more.
Value every bit of training that you receive. Even if you don’t continue with VyStar after graduation, there are still some very important lessons that can be learned from the program, both professionally and personally.
As graduation grew closer, I did some research and explored my options. Marketing kept popping up and it seemed interesting. To be able to help people on an even larger scale was appealing and extremely interesting to me. On top of that, having a degree in psychology was a bonus because it can give a different perspective to the marketing world.
I think the High School Branch Program makes a tremendous contribution to our community. It molds students for the future and teaches them the financial responsibilities that are important for independence. It creates a great foundation for being employed. Several of the high school students that I worked with got jobs with VyStar immediately after graduation. I think the program is an amazing way to mold the career paths for high school students.
In five years, I see myself continuing to succeed and better myself. I have every desire to remain with VyStar for as long as possible. In 10 years, I see myself still working and helping people. If somewhere along the way an amazing opportunity is presented, I will take it. I have high expectations for myself and for my future. I don’t ever want to stop the drive that I have.
We are very fortunate that Gabi took advantage of the opportunities that VyStar has provided. We are proud of all her accomplishments and know that she has a long, bright future ahead of her. If you are interested in learning more about our High School Branch program, please call us at (904) 777-6000 or 1 (800) 445-6289 to speak to a VyStar representative, or visit the High School Credit Union Branch Program page on our website.
If you are a parent and would like to give your child even more experience with managing finances, you may also want to consider opening a student account for your youngster, or check out these three tips for sending money to your college student.
Parents, share with us below: How do you like to teach your kids about money? We’d love to hear from you!
The content provided in this blog consists of the opinions and ideas of the author alone and should be used for informational purposes only. VyStar Credit Union disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information provided.