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Serving and Saving

When Chenese Williams graduated from Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs in 2005, she chose to move across the country and study at Pepperdine University in California. Even with significant scholarships, it was an expensive education that required her to take federal loans to fund the difference.

"I would never encourage someone to apply to Teach For America just for the loan assistance, but it did completely pay one of my loans! As someone who has been so blessed all my life, it was really eye-opening to see such great need – and rewarding to feel like I helped make a difference.” - Chenese Williams

She earned a degree in public relations in 2009 and applied to the Teach For America program as a way to serve her country and eliminate some of her student loan debt. Over the two years she spent teaching preschoolers in a disadvantaged section of Las Vegas, she managed the income she received and applied the $5,500 education credit at the end of each of those two years toward her student loans. She also qualified for loan forbearance, which reduced the amount of interest accruing on her loans during that time.

Chenese now lives in Seattle and works as a recruitment coordinator with an employment agency. She has the remaining student loans as part of her monthly budget and is working the plan toward complete payoff.

“I make the minimum payment on one loan and pay triple the minimum on the other to finish off one at a time,’ Chenese says.. Paying back is not always fun, but it’s a part of life. I consider it an investment in my future.”