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Students are also credit union execs

11/02/2005

Overseeing $1 million in assets. Approving loans. Supervising more than 50 student interns. It's all in a day's work for two Miami University students who manage one of the last remaining student-run credit unions in the nation.

Doug Brackman, 20, is CEO and Dave DiCosola, 21, is president of the First Miami University Student/Alumni Federal Credit Union, an organization that provides 1,500 student members a full range of financial services ranging from checking and savings accounts to ATM cards and loans.

It’s a task that can take 20 hours a week, but neither Brackman nor DiCosola get any academic credit or earn a penny. In fact, both moonlight at part-time jobs to earn pocket money. But their volunteer efforts are not entirely altruistic.

Brackman, a junior accounting major, and DiCosola, a senior marketing major, say they are “99.9 percent sure” they will land the specific job they want when they graduate. Experiences such as approving $15,000 car loans or successfully marketing ATM cards are priceless when it comes to selling yourself to potential employers.

In fact, since Miami’s student credit union was founded in 1987, alumni from the credit union’s executive committee have gone on to success in prestigious firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Fifth Third Bank, Cintas, JPMorganChase and Ernst & Young.

At one time there were dozens of student-run credit unions on the nation’s campuses, but many have been absorbed by professional credit unions and others have succumbed to the competitive pressures from banks.

First Miami has succeeded by not only providing extremely competitive financial products, but by playing a valuable role in improving students’ knowledge of financial matters.

“I know for a fact I’ve made a difference,” says Brackman. “Our motto is students helping students. When an adult comes in and tells you how to manage your finances you don’t necessarily listen, But when you hear it from someone your same age you do,” adds DiCosola.

He regularly speaks to student groups about financial literacy, and he and other First Credit volunteers have worked one-on-one with students whose bad credit ratings endanger their future.

In fact, Brackman and DiCosola are so committed to the credit union concept that they have started a consulting company aimed at helping the credit union industry attract younger customers.

“The only thing holding credit unions back is image. Banks are BMWs. Credit unions are Buicks. Young people don’t buy Buicks. They don’t even look at Buicks,” says DiCosola. Among DiCosola’s and Brackman’s suggestions are to hire college-age interns and to promote credit unions in places that Generation Yers hang out.

Those stodgy credit unions are beginning to take notice. Earlier this fall Brackman and DiCosola gave the keynote address in Toledo for the northwest chapter of Ohio Credit Union organization.

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