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2020 CashCourse Financial Educator of the Year Honorable Mention: Betsy Goetz

CASHCOURSE Betsy Goetz and George Bass

Betsy Goetz currently serves as a faculty member in the English department and has taught a first-year experience course at Riverland Community College in Austin, Minnesota. Goetz has been with Riverland Community College since 2008, and has been a participant in the CashCourse Reimbursement Program since 2016. Each semester, Goetz and her team work together to put on a variety of successful workshops that have been recognized by Riverland Community College's president. Read on to learn more about Goetz's work.

CC: Tell us about yourself and how you got started in this field.

BG: I am passionate about my family -- and teaching. I have been an educator at Riverland since 2008. Although I am primarily English Faculty, I have also taught our First Year Experience Class. Years ago, my Academic Dean, Kelly McCalla, suggested that we apply for a “CashCourse reimbursement” since financial education was a component of this First Year class.  As a result, we have consistently applied for the Reimbursement Program since 2016. Although I applied for this 2020 Financial Educator of the Year distinction, I qualified my application by stating that CashCourse is a RIVERLAND TEAM EFFORT. I could only nominate one name officially, but in my heart, there’s a lot of names in this award: Laurie Minehart, Chelsea Anderson, Krista Olson, Nadia Leal, Amanda Mathews, Laurel Panser, Miguel Garate, Roxanne Holst, Al Shuda, Susan Johnson, Katelyn Flatness, Kris Hamilton, Amy Wagner – and more.  

CC: Tell us about the financial well-being work you do at Riverland Community College.

BG: We have been organizing CashCourse events at Riverland Community College for several years. Our success is defined by our collaboration. We offer CashCourse “Passport Workshops” that run on a simultaneous workshop format. Students grab a slice of pizza and rotate from one station to the next. Students are given a “passport ticket” that is “stamped” by each workshop presenter. At the end, all students who have attended all CashCourse events will be entered in the gift card drawing to our Riverland Book Store or Hy-Vee Grocery Store. By the time we felt we had about perfected this CashCourse delivery, Spring 2020 and COVID hit. We scrambled a bit and completed our first Zoom CashCourse event. The blessing in disguise is that we will now offer an online component in the future to attract our many online students.  CashCourse events have truly benefited hundreds of Riverland students.

CC: Why do you think financial education is important for college students?

BG: Students crave financial knowledge. At our CashCourse events, students learn to apply for scholarships, receive financial aid or grants, balance a checkbook or establishing credit, understand the differences between needs and wants, and identify simple ways to save money. Education is the key. We teach our students to make wise choices with money. That knowledge will further enhance their lifelong success. 

CC: Can you share a favorite memory of working with students on personal finance?

BG: Our CashCourse events are a dynamic trifecta – food, gift cards, and engaging financial knowledge. When we read the feedback comments, we are excited and humbled by students’ responses. CashCourse is a catalyst of hope – even after a two-hour workshop – that money need not be the barrier for students’ academic dreams.  The best CashCourse times occur when students apply for scholarships on the spot from our Riverland Foundation – especially when most didn’t know how to apply or that they were eligible.

CC: What have you been most proud of from your work in student financial education?

BG: I am most proud of the Riverland Team Spirit in generating a “first class” CashCourse Event each semester. Students improve knowledge about student loans and grants, better understand banking and credit concepts, and gain ownership of their financial futures. We want this event to be transformative. This is our collective Riverland goal! And I was especially proud when our Riverland President, Adenuga Atewologun, and our Business Director, George Bass, attended our event.  Administrative support on campus is fundamental to our success.

CC: Is there anything else you would like to add?

BG: Thank you, CashCourse, for this tremendous honor! Ironically, I have not always been a money management expert.  When I was first married, I used duplicate checks because I would forget to write my transaction amounts.  Education is the key. We can learn to better control our expenses and spending habits, just like we can gain knowledge to write a proficient essay. Sadly, I have also observed that many students on our college campus have financial distress. Every day students come to our food pantry because they have no funds to buy lunch.  Money should not be a barrier to education. Money should not be a choice between books and food. Money should not be the reason students drop out of college. Truly, the Riverland CashCourse Team believes our students should have the right to a good college education, the resources to prevent hunger, and the capacity to make a decent living.