Money Wise Women at Scripps College

Sean Flynn

Sean Flynn, associate professor of economics, is the author of Economics for Dummies, as well as the coauthor, along with Campbell McConnell and Stanley Brue, of Economics: Principles, Problems, and Policies, the world’s best-selling college textbook on the principles of economics. Professor Flynn’s research specialties are behavioral economics and behavioral finance, with a focus on irrational investors. A recurring commentator on NPR, FOX Business, and ABC News, he holds a BA in economics from the University of Southern California and a PhD in economics from UC Berkeley, where he completed his dissertation under the supervision of 2001 Nobel Laureate George Akerlof. He has taught at Scripps College for three years and also advises Scripps College’s student-run financial literacy organization, Money Wise Women.

We asked Professor Flynn about the purpose and value of this student-run organization.

What is the mission of Money Wise Women (MWW), and how long has it been a part of Scripps’ extra-curricular landscape?

Its mission is to provide Scripps students with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to take control of their finances, enabling them to achieve their lifetime personal, professional, and community goals. Patricia Dillon, Gabrielle Marie- Louise Jungels-Winkler Professor of Contemporary European Studies, emerita since 2011, was Scripps’ first professor of economics, and she initiated the Money Wise Women program in the early 1990s. The MWW mentors act as an executive committee for the organization, providing ideas and advice on programming, leadership in implementing events, and access to personal finance materials.

What surprises you most about the students’ participation in MWW?

Our students are voracious learners. My observation of the students is that they enjoy working with others to discover and explore economics and finance. All of our students take so much initiative that as a faculty member, you only lightly supervise and watch them accomplish amazing things.

What do MWW mentors do?

The student mentors are trained, 10 at a time, on such economic issues as financial literacy, debt, loan management, student loans, and retirement savings. The students then mentor other students, offer regular office hours, and manage a website and Twitter account.

Why do you think the organization has broad appeal to Scripps students?

Our students are curious and forward looking. Students know they need to manage their money in order to manage their lives — instead of the other way around. That draws them to the type of hands-on experiences organizations like MWW provide. Just last semester, the students completely organized a campus lecture on Financial Fitness by an alumna and parent expert (see following page) that was well attended by their peers and others throughout the Scripps community. The MWW students now offer Personal Finance Fridays with weekly presentations by Dillon and visiting experts, where students learn more about shaping their financial future, with topics ranging from buying a home to decoding a benefits package.

What do you hope the students take away from their experiences with MWW?

Scripps students are grounded in critical thinking from their first Core experiences, where they nurture the ability to tear apart information and look at it from different perspectives. MWW is a practical way to extrapolate critical thinking in some of the key areas — finances and economics — that will impact the rest of their lives. With the combination of tenacious in-class problem solving and extracurricular experiences, our students are well positioned for life after Scripps. That gives me great satisfaction.

 

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