CFA Scholar Makes Career-Changing Connections 

As a marketing major at Morgan State University’s Honors College, Chardonnay Lee was required to take a business seminar every semester. When the Center for Financial Advancement® (CFA) came to the school to present information on homeownership and professional development, she knew she wanted to learn more. 

 “Finances are a topic that a lot of people don’t talk about,” she says. Also the idea of homeownership was not something she had thought of before the seminar.  

However, the lessons she learned from CFA changed her thinking. “All of a sudden, here’s this new world open to me showing me how I could take control of my finances and go down the path to homeownership,” she says. 

What most impressed her about CFA: The professional connections she made.  

She met executives with such companies as Wells Fargo, Truist and Experian. She also got internships with nonprofit organizations Upton Planning Committee and Belair Edison through CFA. All in all, the experience opened up a pool of opportunities for her. 

Today she continues to work with CFA as a program analyst. In that role, she facilitates two CFA internship programs – one CFA does with Wells Fargo and the other with Freddie Mac  

“I collect all of the job descriptions and share the students’ resumes with the organizations,” she says. She also takes part in weekly meetings with interns to help further their professional development.   

The work Lee does has not gone unnoticed. “Chardonnay demonstrates a passion for continuous learning and excellence in everything she does,” says Gwen Garnett, Executive Director of CFA. “She is a great example of what CFA provides for our HBCU students. Give them information, access and coaching, and they will achieve great things.”  

Lee envisions herself becoming a homeowner during the next five years, and she hopes to use the leadership skills she learned through CFA to inspire her peers.  

“My advice to other young people is if there’s not a seat at the table, either pull a seat up or create your own table,” she says. “The world is constantly changing and the one person you need to make sure you take care of is you, and you need to be prepared financially to do that. It’s really important to start as soon as possible to understand what it means to be financially free.”