College Confessions: How I Received Over $100,000 to Fund My Dreams

  • Everyone is walking around using the phrase “broke college student” like it’s a socially accepted norm that you’re supposed to expect.

Did I miss something? Would you really want that to be your norm?

First, don’t believe the hype. You don’t have to be a broke college student. At one point in my college career, I was bringing home over $2,000 every two weeks.

Here are some college confessions that need to be revealed so that you don’t go around thinking you have to settle for student loan debt. You can actually start living the life of your dreams right now.

Here’s how I dodged dreadful amounts of student loan debt:

1. I Chose a Lucrative Major

Ok, please tell me this. Why would anyone spend over $30,000 on a degree that won’t give them an immediate return on investment and leave them with tons of student loan debt?

Come on now. You’re a smart college student, right?

So if you’re majoring in social services or acquiring a liberal arts degree, you need a plan. A real plan. What justifies a big fat loan for an unprofitable degree?

Will your student loan debt be excused if you pursue a certain profession? Will you gain access to connections that will get you closer to your dreams? Is it needed for your next level move?

What is your why?

I decided to major in accounting. Why?

Here are a few reasons:

High Demand

Accounting never goes out of style. Every industry and organization needs an accountant to manage or audit their financial operations.

The Language of Business

If you can speak accounting, you can rise as a respected and trusted business leader.

Entrepreneurship Was My Goal

People get cheated out of their money every day by putting their financial future in the hands of someone else. Not I. I want to understand my money better than anyone around me.

No Minimum Wage Internship

Come on now. If I’m going to pursue a college education, I expect to create financial opportunities or experiential learning options that I didn’t have before. During my first corporate internship when I was 19, I got paid at least $20/hour when the minimum wage was less than $8/hr.

2. I Got the Best Internships

Quality attracts quality. If you want to have a top tier internship, you have to position yourself to be a top tier leader.

Fortune 500 Companies are making trillions of dollars a year and are willing to give some away to attract the best talent?


Because having the best people on your team will allow you to multiply your impact in the marketplace.

So I positioned myself to get internships at top companies such as Big four accounting firm pwc and financial services giant JPMorgan Chase. I didn’t have to trade in the opportunity to gain valuable experience for wages. I got both! And the money helped me to fund my education.

3. I was the Queen of Scholarships

Glamorous internships aren’t enough to fund a four year double major in accounting and finance with a minor in community service studies. I needed a lot more money than I could make during a 3-month internships.

That’s where scholarships came in. Scholarships saved my pockets.

I applied for over 100 scholarships during my four years at DePaul. Instead of going to the most popping college parties, I was usually scouting the net for the latest and greatest scholarship opportunities. And if I didn’t qualify for it at the moment, I would note the scholarship in an excel spreadsheet and read the requirements. Then I would make sure I exceeded the requirements when it was time for me to apply.

I will never forget the moment I received my first corporate scholarship in college. I was 19 and was wondering how was I going to achieve my goals of graduating without any loans when I had to pay for business books, on campus housing, and experiential learning opportunities. That’s when I received a call from PwC informing me that I was going to be a recipient of a $3000 exceed scholarship. Not only was I getting a scholarship, but I was also receiving a summer internship and a trip to New York to attend the leadership conference. Wowzers!!

4. I Served My Community

I was born in the Englewood community,  one of the most economically deprived communities in Chicago. Although my community was suffering, my mom always made sure we had everything we needed. With her love, support, and guidance, I felt wealthy in the hood and always believed that anything was possible.

That’s why I was determined to do whatever it took to use my education to leave Englewood better than I found it.

When I found out I was going to be 1 of 4 incoming freshman selected to be an M3C fellow through AmeriCorps, my entire heart dropped. It was the perfect opportunity! I would have the opportunity to tutor in the Englewood community – right across the street from the elementary school I graduated from. Wowzers!

During my freshman year, I got a chance to do 300 hours of service in Englewood as a tutor. The program expanded and I got to do it two more years! During my second year at the school, I was asked to be the commencement speaker for the 8th grade graduation. It was powerful and I could tell the students were listening to every word.

This experience led to many other service opportunities – including a chance to become co founder of INSPIRE (Individuals Nurturing Students Positively in Rigorous Education), the Libby Adopt A School program. I recruited college freshman to join me in Englewood to paint images of different college logos so that students can be inspired to obtain higher objection. In order to achieve success, you have to be able to create a vision of it.

Little did I know, my leadership and commitment to my community is what would help me to gain access to the best internships and scholarships while traveling around the world to places like Paris, France and Nogales, Mexico.

And you can do it too! Stop settling for student loan debt and start positioning yourself for endless opportunities.

Questions? Send me an email at

Talk soon!


After becoming the first Certified Public Accountant to win the title of Ms. Corporate America 2015 in a pageant held in Orlando, Fl, Charlene created the Career Goddess Academy. She shares her money, health, travel, and career advice all over the web as a contributor for the Huffington Post, Black Enterprise, The Path Mag, Women on Business, Ms. Career Girl, and other sites. In 2015, she was recognized as the Illinois CPA Young Professional Leader of the Year. 

Charlene now works on the set of the most popular TV shows, including EMPIRE, Chicago PD, Chicago Med and Chicago Fire.

Do you need a guest speaker? Contact Charlene at or learn more about my financial concierge services at  

Charlene Rhinehart

I’m Charlene - International Speaker, Published Writer, & Career Strategist. I help women skip the most common career mistakes, move from fear to confidence, and enhance their professional profile so that they can create a life that is better than their dreams.

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