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Student proposal to 'Motivate Michigan' is semifinalist

April 16, 2010

KALAMAZOO--Michigan's economy is ailing, but what will help regenerate growth?

Two Western Michigan University students think they have a prize-winning answer, and their proposal is one of 10 selected statewide for the semifinals of the Motivate Michigan campaign.

Motivate Michigan gathers creative ideas to improve the state's economy by staging the competition. Incoming freshmen and enrolled students at Michigan colleges and universities are invited to compete for scholarships and internships provided by sponsoring organizations.

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'Motivate Michigan' semifinalists

Participating teams and individuals initially submitted their ideas online. The ideas were judged on creativity, originality, practicality and potential economic impact. The top one will be developed into a project plan and presented to the logical organization for funding and support.

A proposal titled the "Financial Literacy Pilot Program" was submitted by WMU students Jacob Berkey, a junior marketing major from Comstock Park, Mich., and Kylie Vasa, a senior finance major from Rock Springs, Wyo. It notes that students are not taught personal finance skills that can lead the state out of recession and that today's financial problems lay in the hands of tomorrow's leaders.

Berkey and Vasa call for implementing a program to educate high school seniors in personal finance practices, addressing such issues as budgeting, investing, retirement, loans, mortgages, taxes and financial aid. Skilled teachers, extensive curriculum and parental involvement are critical components of the program, which could lead to less debt, fewer loan defaults and a higher saving rate in the state.

Other semifinal ideas were submitted by such institutions as the University of Michigan, St. Clair County Community College, and Michigan Technological, Wayne State and Lake Superior State universities. Overall, 280 students from 63 Michigan schools entered the competition.

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Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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