2019 Youth Advisory Board Graduate Tori Elias Shares Her Experience
By Tori Elias
While it is hard to fathom that two years have passed since my senior year of high school, I hope my recollection of time spent on the Youth Advisory Board at Heritage Bank and Trust goes to prove just how influential it was at such a formative time. My name is Tori Elias, and I am a member of Heritage’s Youth Advisory Board 2019 class. I graduated from Zion Christian Academy and am now an upcoming junior at Samford University in Birmingham. Because the purpose of the YAB may be unfamiliar to some, I will first mention that Heritage offers it as a way to engage with high school seniors across the community by means of open-ended conversations and lessons on topics like spending, careers, and (surprise!) bank accounts.
Being surrounded by students of other schools in the county was great practice for networking, and I appreciated coming to know familiar faces as time passed. The monthly sessions we attended were held with various leaders of the bank and focused on realistic expectations of banks, customers, and self. There was a myriad of practical tips given regarding thorough financial research, entering the banking industry, and what a healthy relationship with money looks like. The overarching takeaway for me was that one is never too young to begin taking the first, educated step towards financial independence.
To dive a bit deeper into what a Board member might expect out of a session, one can easily find a mission of Heritage in each gathering. While some sessions resembled a lecture with Q&A, others were spent discussing effective outreach to our generation. Another vital role of a community bank was exemplified through a session focused on giving back to those around us. YAB members met at the Maury County Park and cleaned the remains of Mule Day - both the event and the park being recognized as largely economic and social benefits to our area. If I had to narrow the sessions down to one favorite, mine would certainly be the “tour” day, where we visited the offices of staff and leaders. Learning how each member plays into the grand scheme of Heritage and its functions was easy to visualize when seeing each person in their element, and it also led me to an official job shadowing day where I asked questions and understood the inter-office relations more extensively.
Now, a word to the wise that may already be extremely obvious, high school only scratches the surface of most areas of study and professions within society today. If you have made it this far into the article and are still unsure about pursuing YAB - allow me to drop some facts. I, along with a majority of students had no idea what to major in upon entering college. In fact, around 75-80% of undergraduates change their major once declaring. If you have even a sliver of curiosity about finance, banking, or business as career leads - or simply want to learn the ins and outs of what your community bank can do for you as a professional, YAB is for you. It is one of the earliest exposures you will get to a financial institution and how it operates for itself and its customers. The opportunity to learn outside of a classroom while being encouraged by tenured leaders that understood our very beginner’s perspective was an invaluable use of time for me. I am beyond optimistic about the growth you can experience as a Youth Advisory Board member at Heritage Bank and Trust, and would urge anyone interested to apply.