WANDA Graduate Esmeralda Rubi Garcia – Profile of Success

I have volunteered in so many different nonprofit organizations over the last 7 years. To be frank I’m not sure where exactly or who directed me to WANDA but, what I do know is that it has been a huge blessing. I wanted to join WANDA because they offered so many different networking opportunities and it is an organization that empowers women. Another reason is that I loved the idea of getting a 2 to 1 match on my $2,000 savings.

Some of the things I learned about myself over the last 3 years through WANDA:

  1. I learned that if I set out a plan, and set my mind to it, anything is possible. 
  2. I learned that being a woman in the business world is not easy and I should always advocate for what I truly believe. 
  3. I learned that there are many opportunities for me to succeed and I must just reach for them.
  4. I learned that being a single mother is not easy, but it has its rewards. 
  5. I learned that in order to achieve a goal I must believe that I can do it and act as if I already accomplished it.
  6. I learned that networking with other moms could land me a job.
  7. I learned what a Roth IRA account is and I started investing in stocks. 
  8. I learned that life is what you make of it – so I get up every day and make things happen!

When I joined WANDA in April of 2018 I was working part-time for a nonprofit and attending a private university to gain a bachelor’s degree in business. I was deep (and I mean DEEP!) in credit card and student loan debt. I felt like I was literally sinking and I would never be able to get out. To top it off my credit score was horrible at about 500 FICO. Aside from me being financially illiterate and unstable at the time, I was also a single mother of two toddlers who required so much. I couldn’t afford half of the things my children asked for and I would have to take them to night school with me sometimes because I didn’t have childcare. My young children had to sit in 2+ hour long classes quietly so I could take exams, do presentations, or just focus on the lecture. As you can imagine it was extremely hard for both my toddlers and me. 

Since then, my circumstances have extremely changed. I was finally able to graduate college and currently hold 3 degrees and countless recognitions, awards, and scholarships. I hold Associates degrees in business management, economics, and a Bachelor’s in marketing. As a first-generation student, I have come a long way! I now teach financial courses and try to educate minorities and young adults on how to take control of their finances. I also offer financial counseling and budget creation with a set plan tailored to each individuals’ goals. I’m also proud to say with tears in my eyes that; I AM DEBT FREE! From having a 500 FICO I now have a 786 FICO score

Things keep getting better for me. I went from having $0 in my savings when I started WANDA to now $20,000+ in my savings and I’m working towards buying my first home. I also opened a Roth IRA account and invested my WANDA savings and matching funds.

There are so many important lessons learned from being a part of WANDA but a major one for me was savings and investments. Thanks to WANDA I learned about IRA’s and 529 accounts which is something I had never thought about or even considered having. I will forever be grateful because I gained something that could never be taken from me. I can now say, I am financially content and stress free.

My experience with WANDA has had an influence on how I educate my children about money. I am constantly making them aware of how expensive things are and how we must work for the things we want. I also started giving them an allowance every Sunday right after they are done with all their chores. I always encourage them to save their money and when we are in a store, I ask them to pay for items so they can get a better idea of how fast money can go if not managed right. After I buy my first home I plan on opening a 529 account for my children.

My view on money is extremely different from when I first started the WANDA program as you can tell from my examples above. I feel confident now with the way I manage my money and I know I will have a fruitful financial future.

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