Profile of a Scholar: Luis

Luis, Sponsor-A-Scholar Class of 2013 and recent Penn State graduate, has already proven his ability to turn passion into opportunity. A Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship major, Luis saw a chance to share his passion for finance with his peers by founding Financially Independent Nittany Lions, a financial literacy student organization. We asked Luis to tell us a little about what it takes to be a successful leader of a new student organization:

What is Financially Independent Nittany Lions?

“Financially Independent Nittany Lions (FINL) is a student-run organization comprised of individuals aspiring to achieve financial security. FINL gives Penn State students an opportunity to learn about managing personal finances and investing during college to ensure financial independence after graduation.”


Luis at the podium at our Philadelphia Futures 2017 Graduation Celebration

What inspired you to start the club?

“I started the club with the ultimate goal of FINL as a way to increase financial awareness through various investment opportunities, so that students are better prepared to survive the transition from college to career.”

What were your primary responsibilities as the club’s president?

“The primary responsibility of the president is managing the club’s internal and external affairs. Examples include meeting with other clubs to co-sponsor events, marketing the organization to other students, and dividing up responsibilities for presentations.


Luis with fellow members of FINL

What trait do you think was most valuable in your role as president?

“One trait that definitely helped me in my role as president was the ability to restrategize if our original plan fell through. This helped keep my team focused and motivated to achieve the organization’s goals.”

What advice would you give to a Philadelphia Futures collegian who is considering taking on a leadership role at their school?

“Be prepared to motivate your team and take the initiative to execute your plans efficiently. Be sure to delegate tasks, and keep your members motivated by emphasizing the mission and value of the group. Always be prepared to trouble-shoot so that you don’t lose momentum if you experience a set-back.”

If you’re a Philadelphia Futures Collegian who’d like to share one of your most interesting college experiences, please contact

Welcome Home!

With the Spring 2017 semester drawing to a close, it won’t be long before many of you who have been away at school will return to the City of Brotherly Love! During the week of May 22nd, we’re pleased to offer a variety of programs at the Philadelphia Futures office to welcome you back home and help you make the most of your summer break. Please plan to attend one or more of the programs below. We can’t wait to see you!

Monday, May 22nd 1:00pm-3:00pm
Resume Workshop
The period just after the end of the academic year is a great time to update your resume to reflect all of your recent accomplishments. Volunteer professionals will be on hand to review your resume and provide suggestions for improvement. Please arrive with both a printed hard copy and an editable electronic version of your resume. Additionally, if you would like to have your resume reviewed prior to the workshop, you must email a copy to Shari Cumberbatch ( no later than Monday, May 15th. However, please note that ALL students are welcome,
even if you have not submitted your resume for review.
Please RSVP* for this event by Monday, May 15th.
Tuesday, May 23rd 9:30am-1:30pm
Career Futures Internship Orientation
Maximize your internship experience! This mandatory program for students who have been placed in a summer internship through Career Futures is designed to orient students to professional workplace culture and expectations.
Please RSVPfor this event by Thursday, May 18th.
Wednesday, May 24th 9:30am-11:30am
Thursday, May 25th 5:00pm-7:00pm
Financial Literacy Workshop with Santander Bank
Philadelphia Futures collegians and parents are invited to join us for this informative personal finance workshop hosted by Santander Bank. We are offering two sessions of this program in order to accommodate a variety of schedules.
Please RSVP* for this event by Wednesday, May 17th.
Thursday, May 25th 10:00am-12:00noon
Study Abroad Panel
Are you interested in studying abroad? Learn about opportunities and funding options from a panel of Philadelphia Futures collegians who have lived it!
Please RSVP* for this event by Wednesday, May 17th.
Please RSVP* for each event by its indicated deadline by contacting 
Kelly Crodian at 215-790-1666 ext. 420 or
*Please remember that by requesting an RSVP we are asking that you respond
whether you will or will NOT be attending.

Funding for Summer Courses

We hope that the last few weeks of your spring semester are going well! We know that many of you have expressed interest in taking classes over the summer. Please note that there are several possible funding options for summer courses, including limited funds from Philadelphia Futures! Keep reading to find out more.

Federal aid funds:

While current financial aid policies significantly limit the availability of aid for summer coursework, you should seek this funding before applying for a summer grant from Philadelphia Futures. If you have any Pell or Direct Loan funding remaining from this academic year, you may be able to apply it towards your summer courses at the college you are currently attending. If you received a refund check during the year, you may also use those funds towards summer classes. Visit your Financial Aid office to inquire about available aid.

You should NOT use PHEAA funds for summer courses. PHEAA eligibility is limited to 8 semesters. Do not use your eligibility for a summer session, which is often less expensive than a fall/spring semester.

Funding from Philadelphia Futures:

If you do not qualify for federal aid at your school, or if you plan to take classes at Community College of Philadelphia (CCP), you may apply for summer grant funds from Philadelphia Futures.

Funds are EXTREMELY limited. For College Connection students, 100% of funding will be from a Philadelphia Futures summer grant award. For Sponsor-A-Scholar students, funding may be divided between grant funds and your remaining sponsorship funds.

  1. CCP Summer Grant from Philadelphia Futures
  • You must have a J number (a CCP student number).
  • You must confirm with Philadelphia Futures that the courses you enroll in will fulfill requirements at your home institution.
  • Grant amounts will vary up to the cost of two courses. For SAS students, one half will be contributed by Philadelphia Futures and the other half from the student’s Sponsorship funds.
  1. Summer Philadelphia Futures Grant
  • You must be enrolled in at least one course during the spring 2017 semester.
  • Grant amounts will vary up to the cost of two courses.

Please click here for more detailed information and instructions for applying. Then click the link below if you choose to apply.

Click here to complete the application.   

Grant applications are due by Friday, April 28. Recipients will be selected based on need, demonstrated commitment to their own academic success, commitment to Philadelphia Futures, and strength of the Grant Application request. Award recipients will be notified on Wednesday, May 3.

Please contact Amy at 215-790-1666 x448 or with any questions or concerns.

What’s Your Learning Style?

As a college student, you have a good 18+ years of learning under your belt, both in and outside of the classroom. Looking back, do you notice that you learned better from some teachers than from others, or that you sometimes learned material better on your own than in class? There is a school of thought which believes this is because each of us has a particular way we like to learn, or “learning style.”  There are several different learning style models, but one of the best-known is New Zealand educator Neil Fleming’s “VARK” model.

VARK stands for the four learning modalities identified by Fleming: Visual (V), Aural/Auditory (A), Read/Write (R), and Kinesthetic (K). Fleming stresses that the modalities represent preferences rather than abilities. For example, a student who is a talented writer may prefer an aural/auditory learning style, and a visual art major may learn better with a read/write approach. In other words, your learning style won’t necessarily correlate to your talents!

Visual learners prefer the use of images, maps, and graphic organizers to access and understand new information.

Aural/Auditory learners best understand new content through listening and speaking in situations such as lectures and group discussions. This type of learner also uses repetition as a study technique and benefit from the use of mnemonic devices.

Read/Write learners learn best through words. They may be copious note-takers and/or avid readers, and are able to translate abstract concepts into words and essays.

Kinesthetic learners best understand information through tactile representations of information. They tend to be hands-on learners who learn best by figuring things out by hand (for example, understanding how a clock works by putting one together).

To find out which VARK modality best reflects your learning style, take the questionnaire here!

Fleming prescribes particular study techniques for each modality. See what he suggests for yours below!


  • Reference pictures, graphs, videos, posters, slides, and flowcharts
  • Underline or highlight your notes and readings with different colors
  • Reconstruct the information in different ways by using different spatial arrangements
  • Redraw your pages from memory
  • Replace words with symbols or initials


  • Always attend class!
  • Discuss course material with your professors during office hours
  • Join a study group and/or discuss course material with your classmates
  • Take note of interesting examples, stories, and jokes from lectures
  • Read your notes aloud, or record yourself reading your notes and listen back to them
  • Explain a challenging subject to someone else
  • Speak your answers inside your head when being tested.


  • Focus on class readings
  • Take thorough notes and reread them often
  • Look up terms you don’t know in a glossary or dictionary
  • Write out key words again and again
  • Turn visual information such as graphs and charts into statements, e.g. “The graph shows that the trend is…”
  • Prepare for a test by writing your own


  • For science classes, pay special attention during the lab
  • Relate concepts to real-life examples
  • If possible, take field trips to museums or historic sites related to course material
  • Make use of any apps or software that may be included with your textbook
  • While studying, “act out” concepts and solutions to problems
  • Refer to pictures and photographs that illustrate an idea

Adapted from:

Adventures of a Scholar: Justin

Related to this week’s post about travel opportunities for collegians, class of 2015 collegian Justin just returned from a spring break trip to Spain which was a component of his class on Spanish art and architecture. Justin, who is studying Electrical Technology at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, sent us a summary of his travels:

“To tell you a little bit about my adventures in Spain, I traveled to Madrid, Toledo, Córdoba, Seville, Granada, Valencia and Barcelona. In the picture, I am standing in the Plaza de España in Seville, near a cathedral where we were visiting Christopher Columbus’ burial site.

Traveling in España was the most educational and adventurous experience I’ve ever had in my entire life. The mountains are large, the sky and water are blue, the weather is warm and the sun was bright. The architecture of the cathedrals, the mosques, and the royal palaces were breathtakingly gorgeous.

The focus of the course I took was Spanish art and architecture as it relates to the social, political, religious, economic and technological history of Spain. I am currently writing a final research report for the course about the famous El-Greco of Toledo, an artist and architect.

There was much in Spain that I wish everyone could see! I want to thank Joan Mazzotti and Philadelphia Futures for helping me achieve my dream of traveling the world. Not only was it my first time leaving the country, but it was to a country that my ancestors had come from, and I now have a better understanding of who I am.

This will forever be an unforgettable experience. I’ll be looking to travel back there again, in the near future!”


Justin in the Plaza de España

If you are a Philadelphia Futures Collegian who would like to share one of your most interesting college experiences, please contact

Traveling in College: Semester Abroad Not Required!

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that there are several Philadelphia Futures collegians who have had the opportunity to spend a highly enriching semester abroad. From South Africa to Chile, our students have studied around the world and loved every mind-broadening moment of it.  If you are interested in travel, your college years are an ideal time to get out and see the world while you have access to unique funding opportunities and before you are tethered by a full-time job. While studying abroad for a full semester is certainly an option that every collegian is encouraged to explore, the truth is that it isn’t the best choice for every student.  However, if a semester abroad isn’t for you, don’t be discouraged! Consider one of these potential travel opportunities which may be more in line with your budget or degree plan:

  • Travel as part of a college course over winter or spring break

Many colleges offer courses during the spring semester which feature a travel component over spring break. Typically, students attend a class related to a specific country or culture throughout the semester, and then travel to study the topic in person over spring break. For example, as part of Arcadia University’s Preview program, students could choose to take a course about the music and culture of Austria, which included a trip to Vienna during the break. Similar programs are sometimes offered during the winter session. Collegians Sony and Frankie both spent time abroad as part of a college course during one of their school’s winter sessions.

  • Alternative spring break/service trips

Certain service organizations, such as United Way, offer opportunities to travel to a different American city over spring break in order to participate in community service projects. This type of service trip, often called Alternative Spring Break or ASB, is a great way to see the country for a very reasonable cost, all while helping communities in need!  Earlier this month, Temple sophomore Mingsi participated in Deloitte and United Way’s Alternative Spring Break program in Atlanta, GA, where she volunteered for Meals on Wheels and a local senior day care center.


Mingsi (holding sign) with other Alternative Spring Break participants

  • International Co-op

If you are a Drexel student, it may be worth considering doing your co-op abroad. Several financial awards are available to students who may need assistance in offsetting the added expense of living abroad. Futures alum Jonathan completed his co-op in Sierra Leone during the summer of 2014.

  • Get Creative!

In the past, we’ve featured students who have traveled the country through fully-funded opportunities offered by athletic teams, student organizations, and academic enrichment programs. No matter what your academic or extracurricular passions are, keep your eyes open and take advantage of any occasion to explore a new city or country that may arise through your interests!

Be A Team Player – Ace Your Next Group Project!

Group projects can be one of the most challenging types of assignments a college student has to face. As if it weren’t enough work managing your own time and productivity, group projects necessitate that you share the responsibility of keeping everyone else on track too. However, the ability to collaborate effectively with people who have learning and communication styles that may be vastly different from your own is an impressive skill valued by professors and employers alike!  The next time you see the words “group project” on the syllabus, keep these tips in mind to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible:

Get to Know Your Group Members

Before you dive into planning your project, take a little time to get acquainted with your group members. Ask each member to share their major, academic and/or professional background, and what they consider to be their strengths. Getting to know each other will help you decide how to delegate the workload. For example, a Sociology major who loves working with data might be the best person to design any charts or graphs you need. Likewise, an English major with strong writing skills might excel at writing your abstract or editing your final report.

Keep In Touch

Get each group member’s name, email address and phone number during your very first meeting. Consider establishing a group text or Facebook group for the project, and check in with updates often.

Get (and Stay!) Organized

Once each task has been assigned, set clear deadlines for the completion of each component of your project.  Schedule a regular check-in meeting that works with everyone’s schedule, and reserve a space so that you don’t waste group time finding a place to work. Create a shared calendar that clearly lists each deadline and meeting date. According to Kasia Jaworski from Her Campus, Google Drive is wonderful for group projects, because “you can set up Word documents, spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations that all group members can access and work on. It eliminates sending a thousand emails back and forth with edits, which may lead to mistakes and missing parts. All members can work individually on their parts while seeing what other group members have added. It allows everyone to keep your project cohesive as it progresses” (

Anticipate and Manage Conflict

It’s natural for conflict to arise at some point during the course of the project. The key is to respectfully address the issue early on, before it leads to major headaches down the road. If you find that you have a conflict with another group member, it’s important to examine your own behavior first. Remember, group projects require that you draw upon both your leadership skills and your ability to apply constructive criticism and to compromise. Your goal should be to participate actively without monopolizing the group. If you feel like you have a tendency to dominate or micromanage in group work settings, remember to give everyone a chance to voice their thoughts and concerns, and be open to compromise. Conversely, always be sure that you are actively contributing to the group by communicating often and effectively, and by turning in quality material on time. If you find that it’s a fellow group member who is being overly controlling or not contributing their fair share of the work, it’s important to tactfully speak up. For example, you could encourage a bossy group member to ease off the reins by assuring them that you are just as invested in the project as they are and you’d really like to contribute more of your work and ideas. Only a very unreasonable person would be unwilling to compromise after you’ve made such a polite and well-intentioned request!

Of course, the classic worst-case scenario when it comes to group projects is having a group member who continuously fails to pull their weight by failing to meet deadlines and/or turning in subpar work (we’ve all encountered this guy at least once). Always do your best to correct the problem first by stressing to your wayward group member just how much you are all depending on them, and by offering helpful suggestions and encouragement. However, if all of your efforts to intervene are unsuccessful, it’s time to let your professor know what’s going on. Since you’ll be able to document what steps you’ve already taken to resolve the conflict on your own, they’ll be less likely to allow that group member’s lack of participation to impact your grade.

Adapted From:


Why Stockholm

Chris, SAS class of 2014, and Northeast High School graduate, is currently spending an exciting semester abroad in Stockholm, Sweden. A junior at Lafayette College majoring in Psychology, Chris is participating in DIS’s immersive Positive Psychology program, for which he serves as a student blogger. In the post below, Chris describes his first impressions of the city hew will call home for the duration of his three months abroad. You can also read his subsequent blog posts here and here. We wish Chris all the best as he completes his coursework in Sweden and prepares to enter his senior year at Lafayette!

Source: Why Stockholm

Every Day is a New Day

Kiryl, a second-year Temple University student majoring in Criminal Justice, is currently spending the spring semester across the state in Harrisburg, where he is completing a Pennsylvania House Fellowship. The PA House Fellowship program immerses students in the legislative process, providing a solid foundation for any career dealing with government, law, or social issues. As an aspiring law student, Kiryl was placed in the Judiciary Committee, where he conducts research on laws and government programs, drafts talking points for state Representatives, and shadows his Chairman on the job. He is even drafting his own bill as part of his final project! We’re proud to share the following post that Kiryl penned for the PA House Fellowship Blog, in which he describes how valuable the experience has been for him:

Pennsylvania House Fellowship Blog

Have you ever woken up in the morning and thought about how blessed you are to work in the job that you have? Well for me, this happens every single sunny, cloudy, rainy, or snowy morning.

Every day is a new day. This has become the exciting part of my internship. Two weeks prior to taking part in this fellowship, I pondered the idea of what a college student, who’s majoring in criminal justice might do in state government. In reality, I did not know much about state government. I was worried that I would not have experience related to my interest and my major, since in the future I am planning to go to law school. However, within the first week of the internship I found myself pleasantly surprised.

I was placed in the Judiciary Committee. Today, I have the honor to work besides the most hard-working and intelligent co-workers…

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