Graduate Students Help Middle Schoolers Plan for the Future

Middle school students learn financial basics

Apr. 3, 2017 By Peter Bradley

Graduate students in the Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAcc) program completed a six-week intercultural service project mentoring students from Rancho Starbuck Intermediate School in financial literacy including investments, insurance and planning for college.


The project provided MPAcc students with an educational experience to interact cross-culturally while serving the local community, including serving students with little financial knowledge.

“When I learned that the service project was aimed at promoting financial literacy to middle school students, I was excited to be a part of helping to build a foundation of knowledge that would be extremely practical and useful for them for the future,” graduate student Hannah Larsen said.

Training junior high school students in financial literacy is more important now because of how easy it is to buy things impulsively with credit, MPAcc director and professor of accounting Philip Woodward said.

“Young people are not saving money for emergencies and for retirement as many are underemployed and have large amounts of school debt,” Woodward said.    

MPAcc students led small groups of seventh and eighth grade Rancho Starbuck students through various activities about finance.

“I was able to prepare a short introduction to the lesson for the week, which focused on savings, investment, insurance, risk management, and identity theft, as well as go through the workbook activities with a small group of about 12 students,” Larsen said.

One important aspect of the project was how MPAcc students were able to relate to the middle school students when teachers and parents could not.

“We had these knowledgeable graduate students, someone different and closer to their age range that they were intent on listening to,” said MPAcc coordinator Amanda Oakes.

Rancho Starbuck students appreciated hearing stories of how the MPAcc students learned to plan for college, especially when money is tight. According to Oakes, the MPAcc students served as models to the middle school students who may become the first people in their families to go to college and need advice on how to start saving money now.

MPAcc students themselves gained valuable tools in the project. Larsen said she processed how to take the complex topics she learned in college and simplify them to teach younger students. She added that she gained a deeper appreciation for teachers who prepare lesson plans and activities for students.

Oakes said this is the first year Biola has partnered with Rancho Starbuck and is committed to running the project with the school again next year.

MPAcc partnered with Junior Achievement of Southern California to run the six-week educational portion of the project.

Written by Peter Bradley, iBiola Reporter. For more information, contact Jenna Loumagne, manager of media relations, at (562) 777-4061 or


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