Middle Tennessee State University freshman Presley Hamby of Murfreesboro knew that an opportunity to pick the brain of financial literacy educator and current Atlanta Falcons linebacker Brandon Copeland was something she couldn’t pass up.
The business administration major with a minor in finance and concentration in real estate was the grateful winner of a virtual one-on-one financial “workout session” with Copeland. An NFL veteran, entrepreneur and University of Pennsylvania professor, Copeland recently gave a virtual “How to Catch Your Dream”presentation to MTSU students as part of the university’s Financial Literacy Week activities.
Hamby, who was among students who submitted a short essay for a chance to meet with Copeland one-on-one, said her excitement grew after doing “pretty extensive research” on Copeland’s financial literacy background, and “I knew that this would be the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Hamby has worked part-time since age 15, babysitting early on and more recently working at a local boutique. Thankfully, she has avoided student loan debt through personal savings over the years and a big assist from her parents. But long-term financial planning hadn’t been on her radar.
“As a freshman who never really thought about retirement and saving super long term … I knew that this was going to be something that I was going to use for the rest of my life,” she said of the session with Copeland. “A lot of his seminar was on, ‘If we don’t believe in ourselves then nobody else will.’”
Part of that belief involves “doing our own due diligence and doing research for ourselves” regarding investments and retirement planning, said Hamby, noting that her plans to pursue a real estate career could easily involve needing retirement planning outside of the traditional company 401K plan. (Copeland recommended she pursue a Roth IRA and developing five-, 10- and 20-year investment plans.)
“He has a wealth of knowledge about everything, not just financial literacy, but life in general,” added Hamby. “I feel so much more prepared. I am excited to invest more in myself and build my own human capital as long as I am in the workforce.”
Having the right financial mindset
Copeland, who’s now played eight seasons in the NFL, teaches a financial literacy course at his Ivy League alma mater, where he graduated from The Wharton School and now teaches on issues from budgeting and retirement investing to buying a house versus the cost of renting to handling student-loan debt.
“People are taking ownership of their financial education, and it’s an honor to play a small, but hopefully positive role in advancing their passion for this information,” Copeland said. “I tip my hat to MTSU for emphasizing this type of education because we know for a fact all of the students will use it.”
The 29-year-old Copeland, who was undrafted out of college and briefly played for the Tennessee Titans several years ago, told the virtual audience of students that he had a “hustler” mindset because working in a profession with an average lifespan of three years.
“I will always have to be willing to fight for my dream,” he told the students. “No one will just give you an opportunity … or a spot. Be overanxious and overprepared.”
“One of the primary things that Brandon taught the students was the importance of mindset and having a purpose in mind,” said Anderson. “From the students’ questions it was clear that his message resonated with them. The key to success will now be to apply what they learned.”
And Anderson was thrilled Hamby was able to connect with Copeland directly.
“I have no doubt that Presley will remember the time she spent with Brandon,” Anderson said. “One of the things that Presley did right was to prepare before the meeting — she was ready and eager to learn all she could in the time she had with him.
“I hope that other students will learn the importance of taking advantage of all they can learn outside of the classroom by simply taking advantage of opportunities and external speakers that take the time to come and share their knowledge and experiences with the MTSU community.”
— Jimmy Hart (Jimmy.Hart@mtsu.edu)