Claudey Gustave, a senior at Booker T. Washington High School, always had an affinity for business and dreamed of running his own company. But he was not sure what area of business he wanted to pursue.
“I’ve always wanted to be somewhere in business and I really haven’t figured out what part yet,” said Claudey, 17.
Then his high school partnered with the Dade County Federal Credit Union and his path was made clear.
“I’m really thinking finance now,” Claudey said.
He is gaining the experience in finance through the student-run credit union at his high school. Claudey and other student tellers open accounts and make transactions for customers.
The students, who are in the school’s Math and Finance Academy, receive an honor credit for working at the school’s credit union. This past summer, they trained with manager Jenay Major, 24, for six weeks. Major said working with the students was fun, and she tailored the training to keep their interest.
“I had to make it more fun and more interesting to learn the policies and procedures and the actual work,” Major said.
Major manages the students at the school branch. The credit union is in the school’s cafeteria, and the busiest time is during the lunch period.
Yelena Revere, head of the school’s career and technical education department, said the branch location is the most convenient for the student customers who come in on their break to make deposits.
Setting up a student-run business has been a dream for Revere since 2003, when she saw other schools present their student-run businesses at a conference that prepares young people for college and career success. Revere said it was tough getting companies to bite into her idea because of the school’s D grade, but Revere feels their grade should not limit their opportunities to succeed.
“They didn’t want to come to into the area because of the school’s grade. Well, when you tell me that, that gives me more of a drive,” Revere said. “My students need the same opportunity as an A school, a B school.”
Revere wants the students to learn financial responsibility from this experience.
“Cause when you’re talking about financial literacy, it starts here,” said Revere. “My reasoning is if you want to break the cycle of poverty and what’s going on, you have to train them.”
Tyrone Blake, 17, likes the idea of being financially responsible. He was encouraged to open an account by his friend, Valery Gue, 17 who is a teller at the branch.
“I didn’t have a debit card, so it was an easy opportunity to get a card to put money on.”
Tyrone, a senior, is one of the 46 new accounts that the branch has opened. He said his parents were proud and shocked that he decided to open an account.
“They thought I was very responsible. They didn’t think I would open an account,” Tyrone said. “They thought I would put it in a piggy bank.”
For Valery, helping his fellow classmates be mature about their financial decisions is what he enjoys doing the most.
“I think that was my best part. Giving them the money, serving them, having conversations with them, helping the people,” Valery said.
He dreams of becoming an accountant one day and sees this opportunity as a steeping stone to accomplish his dream.
“I definitely chose this because I want to be an accountant,” Valery said. “I see it as an opportunity to solidify this and get a better knowledge about it.”