There you are on the front row, the syllabus in front of you. It is short, simple, with the heading at the top reading "Finance 101: An Introduction to Personal Finance."
The Professor is a youngish man, disciplined, about average height and size, in great shape, with a young face and warm smile. He has a great personality and is liked by your friends. He is a published author, well-credentialed, respected by both the academic and local community.
You feel your phone buzz and you see classmates stirring. He finishes reading through the syllabus, closes his three-ring-binder, looks up at the clock and holds up his index finger, telling the class to wait, then walks out of the class.
There are still 30 minutes before the period is over, so you sit still. A minute later he walks back in, leading an elderly man by the elbow, guiding him over the step and projector cord taped to the ground, to a chair he pulls from the front row.
The older man sits down, and the professor proceeds to the back of the class and sits next to you.
Everyone waits as the older man pulls a folded paper from his shirt pocket, unfolds it, and pulls the readers from the top of his head down to the tip of his nose.
“I want to thank your professor for allowing me to share with you today,” he begins. “I am here to offer you some perspective. In the coming weeks you will learn many terms, definitions and formulas, and what you will be doing is developing an academic financial literacy. Work hard, take notes, get good grades; your professor is a wonderful guide. But let me tell you some stories about life, about the meaning behind all these terms.”
The sterile academic air becomes thick with silence as the elderly man tells his stories, finishing with a profound speech about the meaning of life as service over self.
He moves to the edge of his chair, “Listen students, you live in the greatest country ever, with more freedom than any of us knows how to handle, so dream big. Prepare yourselves for a huge future. Every truth you learn here will be a lighthouse for you when you lose your way. Prepare to be great and don’t settle for learning these lessons at my age. Learn them early and deeply, and let their light permeate through you so that you actually become a lighthouse for not just your family but for everyone around you too.”
Adam Setser is a financial advisor with Kerrigan Capital and Risk Management, 3543 N Crossing Circle, Valdosta.
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