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Janine Sam

Financial planning program director, assistant professor, Shepherd University

Her senior year at University of Texas at Austin, Janine Sam took an intro to financial planning course as an elective. It went on to change the trajectory of her life. She’d been studying finance, but loved how tangible financial planning was. “Everyone needs knowledge of personal finance, no matter what wealth level they’re at,” she said.

Sam went on to earn her Ph.D. in financial planning at Texas Tech University, and now serves as assistant professor and program director of the CFP Board-Registered Program at Shepherd University in West Virginia. Through Shepherd’s Center for Financial Education, she also helps business students promote financial literacy in the community. Sam recently finished her term as president of the Academy of Financial Services, and just over a year ago, she and her husband, Bishop, welcomed their 1-year-old son, Elyon, to the world.

It’s a lot to juggle, but she’s energized knowing she’s making an impact on students’ lives. “A lot of my students have had no personal finance background, and a lot of them will be first-time college graduates within their family,” Sam said. “It’s really rewarding that this can open up their world a bit and show them they can be different when it comes to how money is managed. There is hope for doing things better.”

— Kate Silver