ESMS Challenge: Interns Paying It Forward

From the Intern’s Desk

Bianca’s Perspective:

My way of giving back to the community was by helping three of my close friends.  I didn’t really have to go out of my way, as I would have done these acts of kindness anyway, were it not for this ESMS challenge.  Two of my friends struggle with anxiety, and they have a hard time balancing school work.   I helped my one friend completely re-organize and clean out her room, create and prioritize lists of things to be done, and also help her schedule her school assignments.  She has a hard time staying organized, and I really do love helping her because it makes me feel good when she feels stable.

My other friend who struggles with anxiety needed help with his Italian homework.  I excelled in my Italian courses, so I had no problem sitting with him and helping him through his writing assignments.  All he needed was a little push to get his thoughts down on paper.  He is always extremely grateful for my assistance, and I know he values our friendship.

Lastly, a friend of mine was struggling with how to search for a job once she graduates in May.  I went over her resume with her, helped her access the WCU Ram Career Network, and also showed her how to use an app called “Jobr.”  All these resources will help her land interviews and ultimately a full-time job.

I love watching my friends succeed, and I am proud to be a part of their journey.  I feel like I really made a difference in their lives, and our friendships are stronger because of my outreach.  I know my friends would help me if I needed them, but I would do anything for them regardless.


Stephanie’s Perspective:

A month ago we were given a challenge to “Pay it Forward” which is doing an act of kindness.  I chose 3 friends and helped them by giving my time and being a great friend when it was needed. I helped two friends prepare for their job search by helping them develop their resume as well as mentoring them through the process of creating a LinkedIn profile. Lastly, I helped a friend who has little time by simply using my extra time throughout the day to pick up his dirty clothes, wash, dry, fold and return his clean clothes back to him! Although, they are all close individuals to me, rather than a complete stranger, I was able to see how my act of kindness impacted their life. The immense gratitude I received from each person is what makes me want to continue to use my extra time in ways that will be beneficial to other people.

Honestly, I feel like these acts of kindness were hardly acts of kindness. To me, I felt like these were moral choices; I really believe my parents raised me to always consider how other people would feel, and to always help others. Although, it was nice to really put these actions into perspective by writing them out, it really made me appreciate how my parents raised me. I really hope when I have kids and raise them, they too embrace the same morals and values.

Stephanie Sywensky


Caroline’s Perspective:

For the past month, I’ve been volunteering at The Solana Willistown, which is an assisted living community in West Chester. On a typical day when I’m there, I call out the numbers for bingo, play board games with the residents, or just sit and spend time with them. The day prior to being assigned the ESMS Pay it Forward Challenge, I had actually thought about reaching out to nursing homes in the area to see if I could volunteer. So when this challenge was assigned to the interns, I knew I was destined to follow through and find a volunteer opportunity! The second I walked through the door of The Solana, I immediately felt welcomed.

I think what makes this experience so special to me is knowing I’m impacting peoples’ lives, even if just in a small way. In the many hours I’ve spent at The Solana, I’ve already become someone the residents look forward to seeing each week. Being with the residents truly lifts my spirits and improves my week entirely.  I love knowing I’m brightening peoples’ days, and I know this is something I want to continue doing for a long time!


Jen’s Perspective:

About a month ago Cynthia talked with us about the importance of being generous and give back to others that may be struggling.  She asked us to really give time to someone who may need a little extra advice or help.  While I think of myself as a kindhearted person, ready to help anyone who may need it, I really thought about how much difference giving someone time could be.

Living with roommates can be difficult at times, especially when sharing a room with someone who has excessive anxiety.  My roommate has be struggling with trying to manage her anxiety issues for a while, especially when it comes to school work.  As an early education major, she is constantly making time intensive projects and lesson plans for her students.  While I have always been there to give her pep talks when she was feeling nervous about an assignment or stressing over how she performed that day, it occurred to me that I have not given her my time to actually help make her projects.  For the past month I have helped her make her poster presentations that she teaches to her students.  It cut back on the work that she had to do and it drastically cut back on her stress levels.  Not only did it help my roommate feel more relaxed about getting her work done, it also was a fun bonding experience that we haven’t shared before.  The stress levels in the apartment went down, we grew closer as friends, I felt great helping her out, and she felt more relaxed and less anxious about her school work.

Giving someone your time can have such a huge impact on someone’s life. It’s important to be kind to others and to remember that giving back can be very rewarding!



Entering the Real World: Economics 101

From The ESMS Intern’s Desk

Bianca’s Perspective:

Cynthia took the time to review an income budget to prepare us for post-graduation life. This especially pertained to me, as I will be graduating in less than 2 months!  We estimated an annual income for an entry level position, $35,000, as well as the expenses monthly/annually for living on our own with roommates.  After deciphering how much we would spend on rent, insurance, groceries, phone bill, etc., the income versus expenses almost broke even! We also took into consideration tax deductions and 401k contribution.  On top of the annual expenses, I will also have a good amount in student loans to pay off!  I don’t want to accumulate too much interest, so I hope to pay off my loans as soon as I can.  My loans will set me back in saving my income for a year or two, but if I live at home, it would greatly help me!

Going over this mock budget really opened my eyes to what kind of money I will be spending when I am out in the real world living on my own. A starting income of $35,000 seems like a lot to me right now because I don’t have any money, but when I will have to pay for the expenses of living on my own, it will be barely enough to get me by!  I have been planning on living at home for a year or so when I graduate to save money, but now I am considering staying with my parents for as many years as I can.

It is a scary thought to think that almost all of the money I will be making in a year will be completely spent on absolute necessities. I always thought that once I graduated and got a job, I would be rolling in the dough, making thousands of dollars.  Now I realize I have to be mindful about saving money and be conscious of what I am spending my money on.  By living at home I could probably save about half of my income annually, which will give me a good cushion for when I move out and have several other expenses to take care of.  I hope to save as much money as I can in the first few years post-grad, because as Cynthia said, I will never have the opportunity to save money this easily again in my life!  Right now I have the blessing of being able to live back at home, and I am going to take full advantage of that.

For years now I have been creating Excel spreadsheets tracking my income and spending. I like to see how much I make and spend monthly and annually, so that I know if I should be cutting back on spending or increasing my saving.  Once I graduate, I will definitely create a budget just as Cynthia showed, since I will have a greater income and expenses to work with.  Budgeting keeps you mindful of where your money is going, and helps you prioritize and realize what is more important when spending money.

Bianca Spatola
Bianca Spatola


Stephanie’s Perspective:

As a junior in college the last thing that comes to my mind is where I will be after I graduate. As my internship is coming to a close, and graduation is right around the corner for the other intern, it is becoming more eye opening as to what I should do to prepare myself for after college. It is exciting and alarming that a year from now, I too, will be starting my professional job search!

Today, we were given a lecture on budget analysis and what our possible living situation and salary may be like with our first job. I have come to realize that a starting job may only pay around $35,000 a year; to me if I were to live on my own after graduating, this would leave me with little extra spending money. I know money is always a factor in what job a person chooses, as well as security in someone’s living situation. Now I realize when it is my time to begin my job search I want to make sure I find a job that will provide a comfortable salary. This also has altered my vision of living on my own right away; I have come to realize that there is no harm in moving back home. Although, it will be a tough transformation from total freedom at college, to back to living under my parent’s roof, I will have the ability to save my money while starting my first year in a big girl job.

After this lecture I am starting to see what life outside of college will be like. Although, it was alarming to see where I could possibly stand in the financial world, I have time to begin planning what my future will look like. Hopefully, this time next year I will be set up in my career and excited to start my financial journey!

Stephanie Sywensky
Stephanie Sywensky


Hannah’s Perspective:

Although it seems so far away, in a little less than a year I will be graduating and entering the “real world.” While I am very eager and excited to make that transition, there are many factors that do not make the process easy.

For the last 20 years of my life I have lived under the safety net of my parents. I never had to worry about any financial obligations. I have not been exposed to paying my own bills or paying rent, and all of that will quickly be changing.

My hometown is Cape May, NJ. In my opinion it is the most beautiful place in the world. Unfortunately, because of the size of it and the type of environment it is, there are not many opportunities to have a career or be successful in the marketing field. That being said, the odds of me moving back home after college are very slim. I will need to be in an area where I will be exposed to a plethora of opportunities.

From a financial standpoint this is very difficult. I will not have the comfort of being able to live at home and not having to pay rent. If I were to get a job paying $35,000 dollars a year, I may not have enough money to support myself unless I get roommates and depending upon where I live perhaps a few roommates. Luckily, I know my parents will always be there to help me!

hannah headshot
Hannah Lamey


Jen’s Perspective:

With the college years quickly wrapping up and the real world being just around the corner, we really have to start considering what happens when we are no longer under the economic comfort of mom and dad.  Here at ESMS, Cynthia has brought to our attention that this time of freedom and carefree living is coming to an end when we take the walk to collect our diplomas.  She wants us to understand and be prepared for the complete 180 that comes when we begin our lives in the real world.

I, personally, have been fortunate enough that my parents have played an extremely large part in covering my finances so I could live a comfortable lifestyle my entire life.  It is important for us, as college students, to understand what comes after we graduate and have to start supporting ourselves.  Once you gain complete responsibility for your finances, budgeting begins to become an extremely useful skill to have.  We need to become aware of how much we can really afford when we start making set salaries and have real bills to pay.

Starting off early it is important to start saving.  This can be done by putting parts each paycheck aside for savings and retirement plans.  It also could be by making some personal decisions, such as deciding where to live after you graduate.  Tons of money can be saved by moving back in with mom and dad, but it also can lead to a feeling of loss of freedom.  Everyone has their own journey when it comes to what they strive to do after graduation, but making a decision like this one can lead to an enormous amount of savings.  We only have a limited time where living under the comfort of our parents is going to last, so taking advantage of this can be financially savvy.  There is a lot to consider as my final year at West Chester is approaching.  While it is a scary thought to be out in the real world and continuing on to the next stage of life, it is also exciting to think about what comes after college!

jen headshot
Jen Galllo


Caroline’s Perspective:

This morning, the ESMS team discussed ESMS intern, Bianca’s, upcoming graduation and transition into the “real” world. With all this talk, we realized just how huge this transition is, and how we need to think about the responsibilities adulthood brings. Cynthia sat down with us to break down each expense we will have to think of in the future– and boy, was it eye opening! I never really thought about how expensive it is to stay afloat financially. Yes, I’m now a little scared – but at least I am now aware of what lies ahead of me.

We began by assuming we’d have a job post-grad that pays $35,000. From there, we listed every financial responsibility we’d need to take care of: such as rent, groceries, car expenses, and more. We looked at monthly and annual costs, and it was shocking just how quickly things add up! You don’t realize the value of a dollar until it’s all right in front of you on a screen. From this experience, I thought of my parents and how much they have supported me throughout my life. Once you are on your own without anyone to rely on, it’s a completely different game. After sitting down with Cynthia, I think I’m going to be roommates with my parents for a few years to save up and become financially stable – sorry, Mom and Dad. While moving back home after college may not seem ideal, in the long run it’s a financially smart decision, and your savings account will thank you.

I’m very happy Cynthia went over this exercise with us, because in one year I will be thrown into the “real” world, and without putting much thought into my financial responsibilities I would’ve been in for a rude awakening. To all college students out there – start planning! Adulthood will be here before you know it, and having the tools in front of you gets you one step ahead!

Caroline Hipwell

Field Trip to Sunrise Rotary Club!

From the ESMS Intern’s Desk

As a college student the first thought that comes to mind when I hear “Rotary” is a stern group of older individuals who are involved in the community. Before attending a rotary meeting I assumed that these members got together to discuss problems and events within the county. Little did I know it is much more than this!

I must admit, as I entered my first Rotary meeting, I was a bit nervous. Cynthia made me at ease when she introduced me to each person we passed. One of my jobs as an intern for ESMS is to manage The Greater West Chester Sunrise Rotary Club’s social media pages; this means that I research and publish posts pertaining to the members and events within this club. As I was introduced to each member, it allowed me to put a face to the names I hear about each time I publish a new article. I was enthralled to learn more about these members outside of their professions. I had the pleasure to sit next to Dr. George Trajtenberg, and speak to him about classes he is taking at West Chester University! These individuals were some of the most welcoming and friendly people I have ever met! It really had me thinking, would I too, be interested in joining a rotary club in my life time?

From my perspective, what exactly is rotary? Rotary is a welcoming group of individuals of all ages that meet weekly to listen to guest speakers as well as once monthly to discuss key events and topics!  Rotarians are all about helping and giving back to the community.  I was fortunate to sit in on a guest speaker that is a leader in West Chester, Mayor Carolyn Comitta! It was a pleasure to not only personally meet her, but to listen to Mayor Comitta talk about the history and improvements within the town.  I left with an even deeper appreciation for WC and WCU.  After my experience today, I would definitely consider one day joining a rotary club!

Stephanie Sywensky
Stephanie Sywensky


Published by: Stephanie Sywensky