By G. Michael Dobbs
CHICOPEE – One student attending the Credit for Life event conducted on April 4 at the Elms College said, “I’m so nervous already.”
The event wasn’t a test though, but a simulation of what the students will face as they manage their own finances, Darlene Libiszewski explained.
Libiszewski, the senior vice president of Information Technology at Chicopee Savings, said the participating seniors from Holyoke Catholic High School, Chicopee High School and Chicopee Comprehensive High School are given a scenario that includes a career choice, a salary level and a credit score. They then visit booths that offer life options from signing up for health insurance to credit cards.
“It gives them a feel for monthly expenses,” Libiszewski said.
Several hundred students attended the event, which was being hosted by the Elms College for the first time. Libiszewski said the simulation has been taking place at Holyoke Community College and Springfield technical Community College for the past seven years.
One of the booths offered a wheel to spin with various surprises for the students to absorb from the cost of a flat tire to a winning at the casino.
“The kids have a lot of a-ha moments,” Libiszewski said.
Chicopee Savings Bank was one of the major sponsors of Credit for Life. Libiszewski said if it wasn’t for the partnership of various organizations and businesses, the program couldn’t be possible.
Chicopee Savings Bank President and CEO William Wagner told the students before the event started, “This will be an eye-opener. The decisions you make on the five years about credit will shape your life.”
He added that whatever career path the students pursue in college should result in a salary that can handle the amount of debt incurred in college.
Mayor Richard Kos told the student, “learning about finance and learning about money is a life-long experience.”