The Student Loan Podcast – Episode 11 – Daphné Vanessa
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Daphné Vanessa

Shamil Rodriguez

 

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About This Episode

DDaphné Vanessa(@daphnevanessa) shares how she was able to get her undergraduate and graduate degrees for free! Daphné Vanessa is not just a boss at StartNoo (pun intended), she is a boss at following the flow of money, understanding the university endowment system and has first-hand experience with building out a multinational network of nonprofits and volunteers. 
In this episode not only will you learn more about the co-host of the Student Loan Podcast, but you will gain valuable advice that can potentially change the way you finance your education while in college. Daphné shares how relationships, hard work, creative thinking and a little bit of serendipity can go a long way. So take out your notebooks (or note taking app…lol) because you’ll want to remember what she has to share. Visit the show notes for more details.

What Daphné Vanessa Discusses During this episode:

  • The process of applying for colleges in the U.S. while living overseas.
  • Leveraging school resources like the office of donor relations.
  • How relationships can multiply the amount of opportunities that come your way.
  • How she was able to incorporate her passion into helping finance her education.
  • How she turned the financial crisis into an opportunity to grow her career.
  • What is was like to build a multinational network of nonprofits and volunteers.
  • And much more…

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Daphné Vanessa (00:00): The financial crisis happened and then it just disappeared. So I had to be flexible. I had to consider other options and, you know, running a service program. I was like, that's cool. I still like that.

The Student Loan Podcast Intro (00:13): Welcome to the student loan podcast here. You'll find practical advice on tackling student loan debt, paying down your higher education expenses and inspiring stories about paying off student loans. We're your hosts, Daphne, Vanessa and Shamil Rodriguez.

Shamil Rodriguez (00:31): Welcome everyone to the latest episode of the student loan podcast. I'm your host Shamil Rodriguez. And we have a special guest for you today. A bit of a twist, uh, we're actually going to be bringing on as our VIP guests, our cohost Daphne, Vanessa. Who's going to actually share her story, which is actually very unique and very interesting, especially if you're looking at creative ways to financing your education definitely is no slouch. As many of you may know if you know who she is and you'll soon find out why. So without further ado, let's get to the episode.

Shamil Rodriguez (01:10): So Daphne, uh, let's talk about, let's start off with your journey. Uh, I want the listeners to learn about yourself first and then we can jump into the more technical details of your college journey and how you were able to, uh, creatively find scholarships and everything else that comes with that. Sure. Uh, thank you for having me again. Um, so hi everyone, um, by journey is a little different, uh, but not very different to other people who are like me. If that makes sense. I was not in America when I applied for my college applications. And so as a result, I was treated as an international student, even if I was born in the United States. So I think that was a very interesting, uh, twist. Hmm. Okay. So we're definitely going to dive into that a little bit more. So you were born here in the States, but you applied for college while you were overseas, right. Uh, and so how was that process? Like what was that process like? Cause I feel like a lot of listeners that may not be in that position, uh, would be curious to see what the, what the different experiences like.

Daphné Vanessa (02:41): So it was different in the sense that at the time online applications were not as prevalent in the country that I was in, of course, because I am much younger than that sounds trust me. Um, so I think applying on paper was probably something that some international students may be able to identify with, but students of today may think how in the world did you send applications? Well, you would travel to whatever country you wanted to apply to. And there were these books at the time that detailed colleges and deep statistics on admissions and areas of study populations. And you just would decide based on that, where you wanted to visit. And some students who obviously could afford to travel and visit schools did that. And some other students just had to rely on the book if, if you were even able to have the book.

Daphné Vanessa (03:58): I say the book because it was different in every country, people who were applying to, um, the equivalent of colleges in France, for example, we're looking at a different book than students who were applying to the United States. I always wanted to be in New York city. I thought that it was just the most amazing city in the world from the books that I had read from the times that I had traveled there. I remember just being so fascinated by the people in New York, um, motivation that I felt from being there and just being incredibly inspired. So for me, whatever I was going to do, I needed to be in New York. And I was like, if college is going to be it then, okay, let's just use college to be in New York. That makes sense. So I applied, I just skipped the entire section and went just to the New York schools and then looked at a map and looked at the schools that were closest to the recording agencies, because a little known fact is that I eminent undercover musician. So I wanted to be at a school that was near recording studios. That to me made sense, I would leverage that experience in being in New York for school, which would satisfy parental expectations to pursue a music career. I thought I was a genius at the time. This is very common by the way. I don't think I'm the only person that did that.

Shamil Rodriguez (05:38): No, no, that's funny. That's, that's funny that you say that because in one of our episodes actually episode eight with, uh, Leslie, uh, Alison, he also comes from an immigrant background and made the joke and we can all relate to this, the idea of, uh, you know, you can only be a lawyer or a doctor or an, um, and so I think that's funny and, and, and true the here and I, I'm sure there's somebody listening to this right now. Who's probably laughing cause they can agree. Um, but I find it interesting that you, you were really trying to target that market, uh, so that you could, you know, kind of serve that dual purpose. Um, and so, uh, talk, talk a little bit about what that process was like, because is it true that you only applied to one school and I just want people to understand that, um, that is one a risk, but, uh, you have reason to be that confident. Uh, you were a standout student in high school, right?

Daphné Vanessa (06:38): I guess I did pretty well in high school. So when I finished upper school and finished my applications, um, for like I think the, the sat and whatever other college entrance exams, um, and received my score, plus my GPA at the time, I felt very comfortable applying early admission. I think it's called early action at other schools too. My school of choice, um, which was NYU. I applied at NYU and eventually was accepted. But by the time I had received my application, I'm not stupid. I still prepared the packets for a bunch of backup schools that were in New York that were below 96th street. And the reason for that was, again, I wanted to be near a recording agency. Like that was the entire goal. The entire goal was, you know, be at a school close enough to somewhere where I can pursue music. So, um, the way that it worked at the time with the paper applications is there multiple levels.

Daphné Vanessa (07:58): And then there's a phone interview at some point. Um, and for those that were able to travel, there was an in-person interview if requested, I was not requested to do one. So I just had to do the paper application. Um, obviously I think it was DHL at the time DHL. It might still be DHL. Congratulations, DHL. You guys have a monopoly on a paper call it obligations. And I sent those in, um, you know, was, was super excited to, to get into my top choice school, had other applications ready and thought, should we just send them, you know? And I believe my mom did. I think she just sent them just to see, and that's how I ended up getting like a bunch of acceptance letters, but I only applied to one school in the sense that I, the school that was my top choice I applied to and received a notice that I was going there before sending out other applications. That makes sense.

Shamil Rodriguez (09:10): Okay. No, that does make sense, actually. Um, so if you can, um, how about, could you break down, uh, what is the difference between, cause you were, you know, you're, you were still born in the States, you just happened to be another country when you were applying for college bull. Was there a difference in financial aid packages that, that schools were not that not just financial aid, but just the entirety of a financial package to more scholarships, academic scholarships, whatever the case may be. Was there a difference because you were applying from a different country, uh, to what you had access to, let's say if you were applying from within the United States.

Daphné Vanessa (09:47): Yes, absolutely. There was a huge difference. Um, so I was not eligible for certain state scholarships and grants because of residency requirements. I was also not eligible for, I mean, pretty much anything that was based on need. I could only apply to merit based scholarships and uh, through private organizations.

Shamil Rodriguez (10:21): Okay. So, uh, could you walk some listeners through, um, some of that process of, of how you organized it? You're, you know, this is something that I know as our cohost, um, that you're a very organized person. You plan prepare in advance plan, plan, plan, plan, plan. So could you share with some of our audience listeners that may be, cause we have some high school students that are listening and we have some, you know, first year college students that listen to this podcast as well. Um, you know, can you talk about what that application process is like, uh, and how successful you were at able, uh, at being able to obtain, uh, those scholarships, like what your system was?

Daphné Vanessa (11:01): Sure. Uh, I just have to be honest, I didn't expect to have a system because I performed well enough to think that I was going to get a full scholarship wherever I ended up, even if it was a top tier school, however, NYU did not give me a full scholarship. They gave me 50%. Um, so I was attending, I think the first semester and someone raised the fact that I could just drop off my transcript at another school and they would probably give me more money. And I thought that was ridiculous. I also thought like, it didn't make sense for my goals because I wanted to end up with a recording contract. However, I thought, because I actually am not seriously pursuing a decree. I don't know how to say that it should probably be free. So I, uh, ended up going to, um, St John's university with my transcript in hand, I was dropped off and they said, which, by the way, it's for people who are not from New York, it's far, it is not in Manhattan. It's in Queens. Um, Queens is outside of Manhattan. This sounds awful for the new Yorkers out there. Hopefully you can relate.

Shamil Rodriguez (12:33): So, so, so let me, let me jump in for a moment here to, uh, clear, clear it up a little bit, uh, for those of you who are not from New York, um, you know, we do have the five boroughs in New York, uh, but a lot of people just assume when you say you're from New York, they just think of Manhattan, right? It's, it's a common misconception. Uh, and so, uh, St John's has a beautiful campus in Queens. Uh, but unfortunately it is quite a commute, uh, at least an hour, I believe if you're just taking the subway. Now, there are some other ways to get there that reduce that. Uh, so I don't want to Daphne to make people think that St John's is on a different planet, but, uh, compared to NYU, it is, it is a hike, um, in terms of, of the commute. So just want to put that disclaimer out there for anybody who's not from the Northeast region or, or, you know, doesn't really know North that well,

Daphné Vanessa (13:24): And I'll just add that, um, because of traffic in New York, it also extends the time to get anywhere. So that's another reason why I think Queens felt far, although, um, I should, this is probably a good time to add St. John's university also has a campus in Manhattan. So for those of you looking to study in Manhattan, you can study there as well. Um, so I just want to go back to traveling to Queens in that I had no intent in actually enrolling in the school, but again, because of pleasing adults in my culture, it made sense to just at least give it a try. So I walked in to the admissions office, gave them my transcript, no application just gave them an envelope with my transcript. I had a bunch of them. I have no idea why, but you know, back in the day when there was no internet, you have to travel with, there was, there was internet, let me be fair.

Daphné Vanessa (14:34): But, but uh, online applications were not a thing. So just in case you had a bunch of certified copies of your transcripts. And so I walked in with one of those and provided it to the admissions front desk person. Uh, she opened it, her eyes widened and said, hold on, let me get back. She ran back, came back and said, do you have your sat scores, which I happen to have? I gave those, she ran back, came back and said, please, please come inside. So I walked inside wherever this what I had no idea. I honestly didn't think I would be there for that long. At that point it was hungry. And I think they had promised me pizza if we did this. So, okay. So I walked in the back and they said, you have an amazing career. And I was like, career I I'm a student. Like at what career are you talking about? Um, I think they meant opportunity or potential for a career. I have no idea, but they came back with a printed out paper of essentially a full ride being a piece of multiple scholarships. They were like, if you come to St John's, this is your opportunity, I guess.

Shamil Rodriguez (16:01): Well, so let me, let's go into that a little bit more, I think more so the, the idea of, so you just decided to go into admissions, right? Because I mean, at that time, just, just the, the listeners are out there. There were, there were all in applications, not everywhere. Right. And a lot of schools at that time still didn't have like a very streamlined process like you have now. But, um, I did apply online for St. John's, uh, that was the way I applied to get there. Um, but I do want to say that what are, I guess, if you could elaborate, because I think, you know, at least for me, when I was going to school, uh, I wouldn't have thought to go to the admissions office as like a source of, uh, of figuring out whether there could be like a better deal for me.

Shamil Rodriguez (16:49): Uh, and so I think that's something that I want to highlight for the listeners out there that if you yourself are in school now, um, you know, look because there are some opportunities that we're going to take a deeper dive into some of those that Daphne took advantage advantage of that, um, that I consider creative, um, or that are not necessarily the, um, the most common that you hear about. Um, or if you know someone who's in school right now, this is the type of information that I, you know, that you should share with your, you know, your colleagues or your friends or your family members that may be in college right now are applying, uh, because you know, who, who knew, you know, who do that, that's the way that you're going to go into, uh, into your school and, and, and, and get that type of package. So, Daphne, um, would you mind let's, you know, just walk them through, I guess, what what's, what are some of the other areas, uh, outside of the admissions office, um, because you ended up becoming a really big part of the St John's community fabric, even though that wasn't your intent when you walked on campus, but how did, how did that shift for you in terms of how you really became ingrained? Was it from that moment on, or was that like, was it a slow process over time?

Daphné Vanessa (17:57): Well, I think I just like luck, uh, serendipity. I have no idea, but the day that I walked in to quote, apply, I think it was new student convocation. So in the, again, I was hungry, but in the rush to, I guess, make show the best of the university, someone, I believe in admissions counselor, and a student ambassador, two people came out and walked me around. I told them, like, I had somebody waiting for me. Like I can't stay too long, but they were like, this won't be too long. It took a very long time. The campus is huge. Um, we ended up walking around, we ended up going to new student convocation, which, uh, is a big ceremony at the university where you learn about the school essentially. Um, and so they had this big ceremony happening. I didn't even like my outfit wasn't even on par to be honest, because this was, you know, just a random drop-in guys. So I watch the ceremony and at the beginning they have these uniformed individuals walking towards the front. And I remember just asking myself who are those people? So I think that played a role later on in probably why I became involved, uh, but in terms of the scholarships and the unique opportunities, those came into play more the subsequent years, more so than the first year, the first year I was kind of given a package and it was a collaboration of a bunch of little scholarships. Um, and then afterwards I started hustling.

Shamil Rodriguez (19:58): Okay. So I think that's a good, a good, interesting transition because, um, yeah, the subsequent years, uh, you ended up finding creative ways to, uh, interact with the community or not interact, but become a part of what I perceive as the fabric of the university in a big way. And I know that we'll get to those people that you saw during student invocation, um, and how you ended up becoming a part of those exact members that were walking for other freshmen to see when you became a senior. But, uh, let's, let's talk about some of those, uh, those creative opportunities that you've developed over time. So I guess let's pick one at a time. Do you have one in particular you want to start off with? Um, I know the choir pops up to mind because, I mean, how often do you get, uh, you know, essentially paid, right? Cause some people, you know, they do their, they do their campus work, you know, in a, in the library or, you know, maybe they have a TA. Um, but in, in true fashion, you stuck with your music love and you ended up, uh, figuring out how to tie that into your, your process while you were at St John's. So you didn't necessarily give that all up, right?

Daphné Vanessa (21:12): No, no, I didn't. Uh, I got super lucky that, um, I was able to use music at various times, uh, in my academic hustle, you can call it, um, so in addition to the grants that they provided, there was like the presidential something grant, the academic achievement award, the provost scholarship, the scholarship excellence scholarship. There were like a bunch of scholarships like that, that, that you would get, um, based on academic achievement. And then, um, there were some times, depending on the year, I may have had a, I guess, a, a margin that I needed to cover. So for those, I would apply to individual scholarships, private groups, uh, through our St John's office of donor relations. Um, I would apply to just individual scholarships and those would cover the margin. One area that I got super lucky in is by just randomly singing in the choir.

Daphné Vanessa (22:27): I was invited to be, uh, I think it was called C M S a back then campus ministry, student assistant. I think that's what the name of the scholarship was. I may be fudging that this is, was quite a while ago, guys. Sorry. And so from there, depending on where you were in the university's fabric, you could do things as a campus ministry, student assistant and get paid for it. Mine happened to be singing. So we sang, we did a lot of, is a religious school. So a lot of ceremonies, um, lot of events, and it was fun. I had a good time. I had a very good relationship with, uh, the choir and actually miss a lot of them. I feel like there were a core group of us. I'm not going to give names to respect people's privacy, but there were a core group of us that we had the best, the best sound. It was like the best Alto, the best tenor, the best soprano, the best percussion w there were just a core group of us that whenever you put us together, we just did magic. So I actually really miss singing and jamming with them. Um, we were a great group of, of, of musicians together.

Shamil Rodriguez (23:58): Okay. No, that's, that's fantastic. I think, um, it's wonderful because you were able to still pursue your passion, uh, music in a, in a way that still allowed for you to pursue, you know, both your academic career and your musical career, or at least stayed attached to that. Um, passion of yours now, before we move on, I actually want to make sure that listeners caught this. Um, and you said you went to the office of donor management or donor relations. I apologize if I'm saying it properly, but you knew to go to that office now, could you just break that down for the listeners as to why that might be important? Because once again, I guess I'll use myself as like a mirror of who wasn't thinking of things that way, you know, I, I didn't know that there was an office of donor relations that I could even go to, to find ways to cover those margins, like you were saying. Um, so could you break down for the listener, you know, where that came from, where that idea came from, where should students be even pursuing something like that themselves, if they're, they're looking for, for a similar avenues themselves.

Daphné Vanessa (25:00): Yeah, absolutely. So I am a nerd, as you may have guessed. And how I heard about it was a combination of word of mouth and doing research. So the research that I did was as somebody who is interested in global finance, I started researching endowment funds. And what better way to start then looking at the endowment fund of your own university? So in that research, there was, of course the who's like figuring out who does what in the endowment fund that's basic research, but then it was what happens with this money? Where is it sourced from? How does it grow? Like, so in doing that research and learning about endowment funds and how they're handled and how they interact with just the general financial industry, I found out that funds that are coming in need somebody like an account manager, if you will, who is, is taking care of the money and distributing it according to the needs of the donor, that office at St John's was called the office of donor relations.

Daphné Vanessa (26:14): And so by going to them, you had a direct line into, uh, speaking to somebody who knew exactly what the donors wanted. So if by presenting your profile, they could think of somebody who was looking to help somebody like you. Then you, um, you know, had one, one step forward, one leg up when you applied for a particular scholarship. And so I became very close with the office of donor relations and, um, actually really enjoyed just the process and learning about how scholarships are managed, how a donor can come into an office and explain their intent of who they want to help and how those, those qualifications, those requirements are sort of put up into a scholarship and how that, that donors goal is, is executed. Their vision becomes a reality of helping hundreds and thousands of people from just, just from an idea. So that process to me was really beautiful. I was so interested in it and probably a foundation of why we're here with, to start new today.

Shamil Rodriguez (27:32): No, I think that's a very good point. So you, you took the approach of really just trying to understand where, where the money flows and, and kind of following the money now, I think, do you think that was unique to you and just like your mindset, like you were saying, like, you're just the person that likes to understand those types of things. Um, and I think it does tie well with like starting new generally. Yeah. I can see that. Or do you think that that's an approach that every student out there should take so they can figure out, um, you know, how to find people essentially like those, you know, we'll call them account managers as we're saying here, um, that could help them the most. Right. I think that's such a unique, uh, role that I think to me is not something that most students typically find out.

Daphné Vanessa (28:20): Yeah. I mean, that's, I can't speak for other people. Um, I don't know if what I'm doing is normal or not, but I just know that I did it. Uh, I would encourage people to, to consider that Avenue, if, if that's important to you, if getting a full ride and, and maybe exceeding the needs of tuition in your financial aid package, if that's something that's important to you, then the office of donor relations is a really good place to start with a conversation. At least if you're interested in the, the financial industry and endowments though, it's, it's a very, it's a great place to get experience because it's real, tangible experience on executing the needs of, of donors. It's, it's a really niche industry. That's that both from a learning perspective and from a scholarship perspective, um, it's a great office to have a relationship with at your respective university.

Shamil Rodriguez (29:26): Okay. So that's, I think that's really, really good. So let's transition to some other organizations that you may have been a part of that helped. Uh, I know you had mentioned, you know, um, when you first got onto campus, uh, you know, you were, you were walked around by, you know, stupid student ambassadors and there there's some of the organizations out there. So what were some of the other resources, or just organizations that you participated in that may have been, that may have played a part in that serendipity or, or just connecting you to the right people?

Daphné Vanessa (29:56): Sure. So I think eventually I became a student ambassador, which was some sort of money per year. I don't remember how much, I'm sorry. Um, then I also, what else did I do

Speaker 4 (30:13): Well, how about we,

Shamil Rodriguez (30:16): How about we discuss, or could you at least align folks on, what is it ambassador is just to make sure that, um, you know, maybe call it something other than another university, but just everybody's on the same page.

Daphné Vanessa (30:26): Sure. So you walk around and give tours of the school and promote the school in exchange for money per semester. And you learn about your university, you learn about the history, and then you share that with not only prospective students, but also current students. Uh, there are long days for any of those major, any of the major recruiting events, you're you start working at like five 30 or five or six or something, and the day ends around like 9:00 PM. So they have some like major sort of events that have super long hours, but generally it's a pretty flexible arrangement that doesn't take up too much time. Um, I do remember some of the other things that I did. I was a, uh, I think they call it work study. Um, and I chose a work study opportunity that would let me study because getting good grades was still important to me. Uh, not for the reason of I wanted to do anything with it, but just ego, probably in pride. So I chose, uh, and was offered an opportunity to be honest in the copy center. I'm going to give a shout out now to the co-op all of the co-op alumni who are out there. We were the best work study opportunity on campus. Um, not because we played video games, but because we offer the best customer service. Thank you.

Shamil Rodriguez (32:05): That is a, a funny transition. I think it helps because I actually was in school at the same time. So, um, Daphne is right except for, I was an RA and I enjoyed that opportunity. Um, no, but I think the, the point is, um, getting involved, right. I think is ultimately the point there. Um, you know, Daphne, you, you were a student ambassador, you participated in a work study with the co-op, which was attached to student government now. Um, do you recommend that students get involved with student government? Is that another source or an Avenue that could be a good opportunity creator for, for people that wants to get involved, not just want to get involved, but like that it could also lead to great opportunities for, for other scholarships or opportunities that could lead to scholarships for financing.

Daphné Vanessa (32:57): I think student government is just, uh, a great opportunity generally, right? You meet people, you develop leadership skills, you strengthen relationships with administrators. It's just generally a good experience for any student. Um, I have to give the full picture that it depends on what you're doing, right? If you are working full time in your career of choice, then maybe you don't need student government, right. But if you are looking to build relationships and you want to get involved on campus, student government generally on campus tends to be a centralized place where you can start to learn about everything else. So that was part of what I did and really enjoyed it as well.

Shamil Rodriguez (33:46): Okay. No, that's great. And I think you touched on a point that one of our previous guests actually brought up on episode nine, uh, with hotel ghetto, where he said that one of the pieces of advice that he received, uh, and now he's a college administrator. Now giving that advice to other students, uh, is to, you know, there are two main components or two things you need to do when you join and step onto campus. One is to make a friend on campus to really connect you to the community, right? Somebody who's gonna invite you out and say, Hey, look, there's this opportunity already. There's this event you want to come out and check it out. Right. Cause that can always lead to just being connected and knowing, being in the know. And then the second part is, is getting to know an administrator. I think, uh, definitely I think it would be great for you to just highlight briefly, uh, or as much as you'd like on the importance of having relationships with the administration, uh, and, and how that could just be helpful for you as a student. I think it would be, it would be good for the listeners to hear that.

Daphné Vanessa (34:44): And I would just add professors. I would be not w I would not be where I am today without the administrators that supported me, professors. I don't want to name everybody because there are so many people I am afraid to, to leave somebody out, but I have professors who I've developed very close relationships with, who have, you know, been a part of the evolution of my family, um, who have, who, who know my culture and, and food. And, um, just like very close relationships, same with administrators, uh, administrators that have been involved in not only my career, but when the earthquake happened in Haiti. And I had members displaced. These same administrators were involved in earthquake relief, um, helping people who were displaced get into schools, the whole nine yards. So, so I think universities are beautiful ecosystems because they really are the foundation of relationships that are longstanding, that are relationships that go beyond transactional, which, which you find a lot, once you enter the work place, universities, uh, really provide the opportunity to have organic relationships. And I think that's something that even COVID, won't be able to take away.

Shamil Rodriguez (36:22): No, I think that's a very good point there. Um, so what, what, uh, would you say in terms of the, uh, student organizations, I mean, at this point, um, you know, I want to make sure that it's clear to the listeners here, David is very much involved, but was still performing academically. Right. So, um, definitely was very much a force on campus in terms of being involved and, and really out there, but was really doing her thing academically as well. Uh, but let's, let's turn the, turn the page over to that organization, uh, or that group of students that you saw. Right. And I do remember this when I was in Sonoma convocation at this point, we, we didn't know each other yet, but I do recall, uh, being in the, in the auditorium as well, or I guess the gym at that time, I think it was, uh, um, and we saw, you know, that organization, that group of students walked down and process their way to the stage.

Shamil Rodriguez (37:20): Uh, so let's talk and let's guide listeners into that. Now, you know, you may not have this type of organization on your campus, or you might in a misspeak called something else, but the point that I want you to take away from here, uh, for, as an audience listener is, you know, this is another type of organization that can open doors for you. Uh, and so, you know, you need, you know, you need to be out there if you can, uh, and seeing if you can take advantage of these types of opportunities. So Daphne, uh, go ahead and let's just elaborate on what that organization was and what that's really done for you, uh, in your trajectory when you were in school.

Daphné Vanessa (37:54): I don't think I've ever spoken about this. Um, and I'm not the only person who is in this. So I just want to be clear that more than one person selected for this it's all. Uh, but there is an organization, uh, they called it the president's society. That was a collaboration of students that, you know, maybe exemplified something interesting for the administration at the time. And they chose, I think it was about 30 of us to be representatives of the school and, and brand the school for donors, for the community. Um, it was a great experience, right? They, uh, teach you honestly how to interact with these donors, how to interact with, um, these different stakeholders. So you're meeting people, you're assigned somebody, um, or at the time you were assigned somebody for each event and everybody had different responsibilities. Mine again, fell into music, which was awesome. I got to sing at some, you know, very cool, very cool events. So I was super lucky that again, you know, the universe just, just worked out for me.

Shamil Rodriguez (39:25): No, I think that's fantastic. And I think, um, you're being very humble, which is great and fantastic. I just know that it was a, uh, present society, uh, especially when we were there, you know, uh, was a big organization that did it. I think a fantastic job of highlighting some of our top students, um, that were not just academic, but just also involved generally. Right. It was just a great way to me. It seemed like the campus ambassadors, but not just to the students, but to the community at large. Uh, and so, um, those opportunities that, uh, that I've, that I've seen you and other members of that organization that we know, um, really, really ended up being, I think, a great, a great opportunity for the school, but then also just for the members, like you said, you were being taught, um, different life skills that I think Tran translate well.

Shamil Rodriguez (40:16): Uh long-term. And so my point for asking you to share some of that information is because, uh, you know, some of our listeners out there that are in school, um, should see if there is, that's a big organization on their campus, because it allows for you to indefinite situation, um, you know, be tied to music in some way still again. Um, and then also, um, just open up new doors and just meet new people. Uh, and, and I think that steel sharpens steel. So when you're around your peers that are also, uh, high performers in their respective field and they get selected to be in that type of role, um, it ends up being a win-win for everyone. Uh, so I just want to put that out there that, uh, she's being very humble about that role, but I think if you are out there in school at this moment in time, um, pursuing organizations that allow for you to interact with other peers that are top performers as well, and just to interact with the administration and to, uh, some of the folks that make the university, uh, move forward in the positive direction can only just result in positive results for you.

Shamil Rodriguez (41:20): So, um, all right. So let's, let's, let's take this to what I, what I perceive as like the final chapter of like your, um, what I admire about your ability, uh, during our undergrad years, um, was to translate that into, um, that success also into your, your grad grad school life. Um, so Daphne doesn't just love music or love New York, which by the way, are probably two of her very top loves. Um, she also loves the country of Italy, um, and was able to figure out a way, uh, to go to Italy and also have that, uh, you know, as a full ride paid for by the school and, and, you know, and doing a great job while she was there, but I don't want to steal her thunder. So Daphne let let's let's share, uh, how you were able to somehow tie in, uh, another passion and love of yours, uh, and, and tie that into your education that at the same time.

Daphné Vanessa (42:18): Sure. So this goes into the piece that you spoke about, um, speaking with administrators and, and developing those relationships. So through some of those relationships and, uh, through different organizations that I was in, I was offered the opportunity to run a service program. And because this particular university had campuses all over the world, their European hub had three major campuses that needed a person to manage the service opportunities of the undergraduate students. So that was offered to me in the form of a graduate assistantship, a job that essentially paid me and paid for my school. So I accepted and ended up, uh, living there for about a year and a half or so, and ran a service program, which, uh, as you may guess from start, new service is a passion of mine. I love volunteering. I love helping people, and this was an opportunity to do that on a large scale with impact.

Daphné Vanessa (43:33): So we did that and that entire opportunity was based on relationships with administrators. So they say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I think I was ready at for something at the time I had spoken about, uh, my interest in, you know, being, being abroad for a certain period of time. And so the opportunity was offered to me graciously by somebody today who I still consider to be a mentor he's very successful. And, um, he, we, we, we, we made it work. He was a visionary, uh, still is a visionary and always thought super big. So I think the biggest lesson that I learned from that opportunity was to see things at very large scale and to not let limiting beliefs, stunt your, your, your vision for the future.

Shamil Rodriguez (44:36): Okay. That's, that's very good. And thank you for sharing that. Now, can we take a deeper dive actually into, uh, into the, what it was like while you were there in the, and you were actually building out this program or was it new or like, what was that day-to-day like in terms of actually being a student, but like some of the responsibilities and managing those non-profits how did you find them? Like, what was that whole process like,

Daphné Vanessa (45:00): Uh, not sleeping. Um, so you, for, for me, I worked during the day and then I think class started at night around 7:00 PM or so until 10. Um, so during the day, the, there were established organizations that already had relationships with the university. So that was very helpful, but there was also the idea from students' perspectives that they weren't getting enough diversity of experience with the service opportunities. And so that was the piece that we were looking to find new organizations. And then, um, also make a little bit more concrete, what the S what the system was when, when somebody arrived. So it was really the, I love the word logistics, but logistics management of, of, of volunteering, of managing large number of volunteers, and then also managing non-profits so that both people were getting valuable experiences.

Shamil Rodriguez (46:11): Okay. So it seemed like you were really kind of building that foundation that ended up translating really well, and to start new. And so, for some of your listeners that, that may not have made the connection, um, even though we're the codes here, the sit alone podcast, um, we are also co-founders or start new and it translates well, because what's starting to you, you have that component where you are building a resume of experience while you're in school, uh, through non-profit experience. And you're helping out nonprofits that are seeking professional services of some sort or another, or more qualified volunteers for some of their more, uh, uh, critical. And I say critical to their let's say like their operations, uh, components is, which is what we allow for folks to offer their start new. And then that student also gets the benefit of either, you know, tuition payments towards their tuition or payments reserve student loans, uh, if they have that, or if they're alum, so a shameless plug there, but I see that there's like an immediate translation there, but, but let's get back to, let's get back on track with the, with the idea of, um, when you were out there and, and, you know, pursuing this all really kind of, there kind of seems to be a persistent theme here, right.

Shamil Rodriguez (47:23): That you were, you know, you were open to the opportunities, uh, you, you, you pursued them. And then when the door opened, you, you know, you ran through that door because that's, it's, it seems to be like, like you said, you, you were open to those ideas, you pursued things, you were, you excelled because you thought it was just something you should be doing anyway, but could you speak a little bit about what the idea of like, being open to the idea of opportunities, even if they weren't ideas that you had at the time? Cause I feel like that's something that might be good for our listeners to hear.

Daphné Vanessa (47:57): Sure. And I think some of this is unique to, um, our generation because of the financial crisis, but when the financial crisis hit P like existing opportunities disappeared for some people. And so seeing that happen on a large scale, really just made a little bit more concrete that you have to just go with the flow. Like you can't always plan everything, which is very contrary to who I am. I'm a planner. I like for things to go according to plan. And when the plan does not happen, it takes me a little while to recover where I used to anyways. So, um, I think the financial crisis helped a lot of us kind of be like, it is what it is, you know, what, and something else will come up. You have to have that mentality just to get through, or else you'll be sulking and that's not effective or productive.

Daphné Vanessa (49:01): So we learn to adapt because we had to, because we grew up in a time when, what was planned, didn't happen. I can give an example where I had an offer for a particular, you know, major investment bank where I had worked and the financial crisis happened and then it just disappeared. So I had to be flexible. I had to consider other options and, you know, running a service program. I was like, that's cool. I still like that. Let's do it. It's not what I studied. It's not necessarily what I, um, thought I would do at the time, but it's enjoyable. I'm still growing as a person and it's free. So I'll take it, you know, that was the mentality.

Shamil Rodriguez (49:59): Okay. So, so would you say to someone, um, who may be hitting a wall of some sort, right. I guess what would be the type of advice you would give someone if they, uh, had that happen? Right. Because when you're in the moment, it's hard to see, right. As, as, as adults now, um, it's easy to reflect on those moments then and, and see like, Oh, okay. Like, it wasn't as bad as I thought, but these are, these are life events that impacted a lot people in a big way. So what, what advice would you give someone today to Anthony? And I think COVID in its own way, uh, has impacted a lot of people in that very similar way. So, uh, what, what advice would you give out to somebody right now, who's out there who may have had their opportunity to disappear? Like what, what's the advice you would give them if you were, you know, if you were talking to them right now?

Daphné Vanessa (50:48): I would say I, and I still remember how I felt. Um, I felt, I felt like a lot of unfairness. I think at the time I was really devastated that markets were crashing, but also that I had been a part of, you know, an industry that was being blamed for, you know, the world crumbling. So the, it was, I remember what it felt like at the time to be really down so I can relate, but I think what is more effective and what I ended up doing was to see it as, uh, a clean awakening, you know, like [inaudible] like a clean slate where you now have the opportunity to start fresh doing something else, maybe continuing what you were doing, but at least starting with a clear mind to say, what's next for me. And I think that's the beauty of disruptions like this, your life is disrupted, right?

Daphné Vanessa (52:09): But it's almost a great opportunity to re-engage with personal development. If you haven't been already or strengthen it where you already have and think into yourself and decide, what is my purpose, what should I be doing? And how can I get myself closer to there from where I am now. So one thing that can't be taken away from you is your mind what you've learned, who you are, how you feel like those aspects of who you are. Nobody can take that away from you. So you lose your job. You, um, you lose sort of financial opportunities, not as big of a deal. Health is probably a little bit more of a challenge. Um, but beyond actually no longer being in this world, if you're still in the game, you're still in the game. So play hard as hard as you can.

Shamil Rodriguez (53:16): Okay. Well, very well said very well said. Um, so I think that that wraps up a really, uh, good episode. I hope that the listeners took away some, some golden nuggets, I guess we'll, we'll say there, uh, some creative ways to finance it. Uh, learn a little bit more about one of our co-hosts that I think, uh, what I think is a very interesting story, but I, I may be biased and that's okay. Um, but no, seriously, to be able to go through your undergrad and graduate career, uh, and graduate without any student loans is the real Testament to your ability to, and as you said, and I think we hear through the story is, is keep an open mind, um, pursue things with your passion, right? You didn't just become a machine just to pursue that you kept and figured out ways to infuse music into your entire your path.

Shamil Rodriguez (54:11): Um, and then you, you also, uh, were a part of the community, uh, in college. So not just your admins, not just your fellow students on campus, but with the, your professors as well. So, uh, ultimately I think that this was a very positive episode. I'm glad you were able to join us as our VIP guests today. Uh, Daphne and cohost. Uh, are there any final words, uh, you get that you get that you get that opportunity because this is your show as well. So, uh, let's, let's give you, uh, some, some parting words of wisdom for the group, or just anything else that you think that you wanted to highlight before we wrap up the show?

Daphné Vanessa (54:55): Um, I think just parting words, thank you for having me. Um, for those of you who are still considering whether or not college is for you. I think I would always look at the numbers before attending, but I would also just look at your purpose and what you think you should be doing. And if you think you should be exploring now, that's okay too. I think that we focus too much on the need to go to college instead of what, what the end goal is. And so I think there's a lot of value to doing that deep work with yourself before taking action on, you know, a big, a big expense such as university education.

Shamil Rodriguez (55:46): Okay. And you know what I have, I have one final question for you. Uh, I know we typically do some sort of like a quick question round. I'm going to put you through that gauntlet. Um, but what I will ask you is, um, you know, since you are the co-founder of starting to as well, uh, would you mind just giving a, a quick, uh, update or update, but a quick reason as to why you pursued, uh, start new in like wanting to give back in the way that you're doing. And, and I think that would be great for listeners to hear.

Daphné Vanessa (56:16): I saw, I felt very, very lucky for how I, uh, got through college and grad school, but looked around and saw that it wasn't common. And so I was really disappointed that people who were equally as talented as me, who also, uh, were very intelligent, may not have had the same experience with scholarships, with, um, opportunities. And so part of the reason why, why this idea came into play was that we wanted to level the playing field. We wanted to democratize education. We wanted to democratize, uh, opportunities for career success. And it felt like you don't have experience if you don't have experience. So this felt like a nice way of blending everything together to allow for people to get experience, get school paid for, um, and, and, and produce more productive members of society that don't come out with a burden. So that was the goal, hope that we're working towards that. And we're super passionate about delivering the most amount of opportunities to people as possible in our lifetime.

Shamil Rodriguez (57:35): All right. Very well said. Thank you for, for sharing your story with us. Uh, and if any of you have any questions or, you know, just wanted to rewind the tape or catch some of the notes or some of the things that we discussed today, uh, we, we will have plenty of information on the show notes for today's episode. So visit the student loan podcast.com forward slash episode 11. That's the number one, one, that's the student loan podcast.com forward slash episode 11. Thank you again, Daphne. And we'll talk to you guys soon.

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