Meet Kimberly Watkins, a PhD candidate in Financial Planning from Monticello, FL. Kimberly earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in 2006, and earned her Master’s in Management from the University of Florida in 2007. She is on a Graduate School Fellowship and a FHCE Teaching Assistantship. Kimberly is also involved with the ASPIRE Clinic and Money Dawgs.

Why did you decide to pursue a degree in financial planning at the University of Georgia?

I was interested in financial planning when I was an undergraduate, but I didn't know it was a major. It wasn't until I volunteered with a financial education program through my church that I found out there was a degree for financial planning. I was perplexed about the attitudes and beliefs that some participants in the program had about money, so that is what fueled my interest in pursuing a Ph.D. I decided to come to UGA after speaking with a then doctoral student and Dr. Grable. Everyone was very helpful, and the campus had a wonderful feel to it. I'm really happy with my decision.

What is your favorite class and why?

My favorite class was the ASPIRE Practicum.  Practicum reminded me of why I majored in financial planning. It was very rewarding to help people who didn't think they could improve their financial situations. I also felt challenged to step outside of my comfort zone and work directly with clients. Working with clients helped to improve my confidence, and I learned so much by researching new issues almost every week or listening to the issues other students experienced with their clients.

What are your research interests? Share information about your dissertation/thesis.

It took me a while to settle on a topic, but I've chosen financial socialization. I think many of the issues that we have surrounding money is how we're socialized. I want to know how people learn about money and how these beliefs shape their attitudes and behaviors. I am especially interested in working with youth and their parents. I think if we can help parents increase their knowledge and confidence, they will learn how to model more positive financial behaviors to their children. Hopefully, this will help people learn early how to manage their finances and get rid of the taboo about money.  

What are your plans post-graduation? How do you think your degree in financial planning will help you to achieve those goals?

I would love to teach financial counseling courses. I'd also like to work with the ASPIRE Clinic to create a similar clinic if there isn't something at my institution. I think it is a really wonderful gem, and there should be one at every institution of higher learning serving communities.

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