NACo scholarship winners share the value of saving for retirement

For the thirteenth year, high school seniors participating in the NACo/Nationwide scholarship essay contest shared their unique perspectives on saving for retirement.

Graduating seniors became eligible by having a parent or grandparent who contributes to the NACo 457 Deferred Compensation Program. They were asked to write a short essay, describing the importance of saving for retirement now. The winning entries were submitted by:

2017 NACo winners2017 NACo winners

In their essays, each student communicated the importance of preparing financially for retirement in response to these questions:

“Most high school students dream of the day when they will be on their own and no longer depend on their parents, but that kind of freedom requires financial independence. What does financial freedom mean to you? What is your plan to achieve financial freedom for yourself and how are you going to ensure that your financial freedom will continue through your retirement years?”

Each winning senior received a $2,500 college scholarship from Nationwide and the National Association of Counties.

Kaitlyn Galliher

To Kaitlyn, financial freedom is more than about taking care of herself — it’s a family. She credits her parents for teaching her the value of saving for her future. “My parents always taught me that financial stability is one of the most important freedoms. I am extremely grateful for their forethought to save money for my education.”

Kaitlyn realizes that financial freedom can be achieved, but it will take hard work and perseverance. She plans to graduate from college with as little debt as possible and to “rough it out,” making paying off debt her primary focus. “I’ll also follow my parents’ footsteps and participate in any 457(b) or 401(k) plans my employer may offer.”

While Kaitlyn says that she has learned much from her parents and what they’ve achieved, she also looks forward to “a future where I can be debt-free and improve the life of my family — showing my parents I have heeded their lessons.” Kaitlyn plans to attend Susquehanna University and get her EMT license after graduating from Susquentina High School, Duncannon, PA. Ginger Galliher works for the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.

Hailee Sparks

During high school, Hailee learned how to save for her future from her first employer. “They offered a direct-deposit option. So I signed up to have 25% of my paycheck placed into a savings account for college.” She quickly learned the convenience of automatic direct-deposit. “It’s a great way to save money because I don’t need to take additional steps to move my money into savings every pay day.”

Hailee also credits her mother for giving her a great understanding of the importance of savings accounts, retirement accounts, and loans.

Following graduate school and getting a job, Hailee plans to set up direct withdrawal from her paychecks to her retirement account. “I plan on placing 15% in a savings account, 15% in a retirement account — and increasing the amount to the retirement account every year.”

After graduating from Hudson Senior High School in Hudson, WI, Hailee plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, getting her degree — and eventually her Master’s degree — in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology. Her sponsor is Heather Wolske of St. Croix County.

Anfernee Alstan

When it comes to defining financial freedom, Anfernee prefers to quote self-help coach and businessman Tony Robbins, “Financial freedom is working hard because you want to — not because you need to.”

Anfernee already has his financial future mapped out. His first step to achieving financial freedom is to attend college and eventually grad school. As a civil engineer, he plans “living comfortably while still being able to save.” Anfernee also expects to fully utilize his future employer’s 401(k) plan, as well as save at least six months’ worth of income for any unplanned expenses.

With an entrepreneurial spirit, Anfernee would eventually like to start his own business. “It would be an LLC so that my personal savings would be separate from my business,” he says, adding, “I would also like to start my own foundation to help children in need within inner cities.”

After graduating from Robinson High School in Tampa, FL, Anfernee plans to attend Florida Atlantic University, getting his degree — and eventually his Master’s degree — in Civil Engineering. His sponsor, Terrell Alston, works as the Hillsborough County Clerk of Circuit Court.

Morgan Webb

Like most high school students, Morgan admits that she initially had trouble understanding what financial freedom meant. That changed once she started her first part-time job and had to choose between spending or saving “her own money.” Fortunately, her high school economics teacher assigned a project where Morgan had to develop an eight-year budget, starting with college and ending four years after. “I love math and science — so I really geeked out.” By learning the importance of saving, she decided to attend college locally so that she could live at home and reduce her expenses. “I now understand about financial freedom,” says Morgan.

Morgan’s dream job is to stay in the Sonoma area and open a yoga studio for disabled people and children. And, by graduating from college with as little debt as possible, it “proves that accomplishing financial freedom is possible if you set your mind to it.”

After graduating from Cardinal Newman High School in Sebastopol, CA, Morgan plans to attend Sonoma State, double majoring in Exercise Science and Business Administration. Her sponsor, Karen Webb, works at the Department of Child Support Services in Mendocino County.

Scholarship honors 38 years of partnership

Nationwide and NACo are committed to helping participants plan for retirement as well as their family's future. Nationwide sponsors the Nationwide/NACo scholarship to recognize its three-decade-long partnership with NACo and its member counties.

For additional information about the NACo Deferred Compensation Program, please contact Carlos Greene at or 404-263-3656, or contact David Belnick at or 410-790-5440.

Nationwide Retirement Solutions (Nationwide) partners with the National Association of Counties (NACo) to provide counties and their employees with a competitive deferred compensation program. As part of this partnership, Nationwide pays a fee to NACo in exchange for NACo’s exclusive endorsement, marketing support, and program oversight of Nationwide products made available under the program. For more information, including fees paid, Nationwide encourages you to visit

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