Meet the Team

Staff

Julie Heaton headshot

Julie Heaton

Julie Heaton is Director of the Penn State Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from the College of William & Mary, VA, a Master of Public Administration, and a Graduate Certificate in Public Health Administration from the University of Montana. She began her work in financial wellness while working for a violence prevention non-profit in North Carolina. Helping survivors rebuild their lives, she observed how financial knowledge can self-empower and improve wellbeing for individuals. Since then, her work and research has focused on how to make financial education accessible, affordable, and inclusive for all learners. Before coming to Penn State, Julie taught personal finance at the University of Montana and served as Director of the University of Montana’s Financial Education Program. Julie is committed to putting student success at the center of her work and hopes to share with Penn State the strength that can be achieved through financial fitness.

Money Question for Julie: Do you find saving money difficult? Why or why not?

"Yes! Saving money has always felt like a challenge, but the reason it is difficult has changed for me over the years. When I was an undergraduate, my expenses and needs were fairly simple. Saving was a chore because I made little income and simultaneously had big travel dreams and desires that would quickly drain whatever I was able to save. Now, I’m more frugal and have a stable income, but the cost of life expenses and my desire for security is higher (e.g. mortgage, insurance, childcare, healthcare). So, saving is still something I have to be very intentional about."

Sarah DeWolfe

Sarah DeWolfe

Sarah DeWolfe is Assistant Director of Outreach and Special Programs of the Penn State Sokolov-Miller Family Financial & Life Skills Center. She grew up in the Chicago suburbs and holds a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and a Master’s in Social Work from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.  Sarah liaises with the Commonwealth campuses to promote the Center's programs and services across the University; meets with students one on one to coach them in their financial journeys; and oversees the Financial and Life Skills Mentoring Program. Sarah is dedicated to helping Penn State students understand that financial literacy, while an integral part of well-being and success, is a lifelong adventure which requires acquiring knowledge and skills that will inform positive financial behaviors. With this in mind, she approaches financial coaching sessions from the viewpoint that personal finance is inherently holistic in nature.

Money Question for Sarah: What's something you spent/spend a lot of money on?

"FOOD! And not grocery food.  I LOVE eating out: fast food, sit-down restaurants, movie-theater hotdogs, baseball-stadium hotdogs, Sam's Club hotdogs...I digress.  I don't mind cooking, but it takes time and often feels like the 7 minutes I spend eating what took me over an hour to cook isn't worth it. I grew up poor, so when I was in college, I'd spend $3 here, $5 there on fast food because it was cheap, and I only had like $10 in my account at all times. The first time I sat down to budget, I found out I was spending over $400 a month on my "cheap" food!  So I got in the habit of giving myself eat-out money in my budget that I can track so I actually KNOW how much I'm spending, which is usually the same amount or more than I give myself for groceries. And that's ok."

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Sarah E. Metzger

Sarah Metzger is Assistant Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the Penn State Sokolov-Miller Family Financial & Life Skills Center. She is a native of Chicagoland and holds a B.A. in Secondary Education from DePaul University and an M.A. in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University. Sarah has over a decade of experience teaching learners in secondary, post-secondary, and professional settings. She specializes in instructional design and delivery, support for learners, and educational technology. As lead presenter, Sarah oversees the workshop and first-year seminar programs. She is committed to helping Penn State students meet their financial and academic goals through customized, authentic learning experiences. 

Money Question for Sarah:  Love or Money? 

"Many well-intentioned relatives have advised me to 'marry for money and love will come later.' As it happens, I've found the opposite to be true, and I always assumed their advice was given in jest anyway. It's true that a partner with money and power can enable us to reach our dreams, but if marrying someone we don't love leads to low relationship satisfaction and negative emotions, is it really worth it? I say, 'find yourself someone you love and let your positive emotions drive you to create wealth together.'"

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Allie Smith

Allie Smith is Assistant Director of Financial Counseling for the Penn State Sokolov-Miller Family Financial & Life Skills Center. Originally from Central Pennsylvania, she earned her B.S. from Clarion University of Pennsylvania in Finance and Human Resource Management. She also holds a Graduate Certificate in Organization Development & Change from Penn State’s World Campus. Allie oversees the Center’s one-on-one financial coaching program and hosts the MoneyCounts webinar series. Allie is passionate about empowering students to lead positive and less stressful lives through the implementation of good financial habits. Outside of work, Allie spends her time playing and coaching tennis and enjoying outdoor activities like camping and hiking. Allie is a Certified Personal Finance Counselor as recognized by Fincert.org.

Money Question for Allie: Why do you work in financial wellness?

"When I initially stepped into the role of financial educator, I realized that despite studying finance in college, I lacked personal financial literacy. As I trained for the job, I came to recognize the importance of budgeting, saving, investing, and living below my means. I worked on changing my mindset from being a “spender” to a “saver”.  Embracing these principles transformed my life, enabling me to prioritize spending on things that truly matter to me while letting go of unnecessary expenses like impulse clothing purchases, dining out excessively, and nail appointments. I noticed that having control over my own financial situation was a big stress reducer, and I felt so empowered!  Having undergone this journey myself years ago, my experience has been reinforced through those that I’ve worked with: I’ve witnessed firsthand, time and time again, how implementing sound financial practices like budgeting, saving, and paying down debt reduces the daily stress people face and empowers them to live more joyful lives. I love that I’m able to be a part of this journey for people, helping those I meet with achieve financial wellness and take control of their lives through their personal finances."

Arintha Gillen

Arintha Gillen is the Administrative Support Assistant for the Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center. She provides general office support, oversees purchasing and reconciles the office budget. She is originally from Clearfield, PA and earned her Practical Nursing diploma from the Clearfield County Career and Technology Center. She started at Penn State as part of the Contact Tracing team in 2020. Prior to Penn State she was a home health nurse. Arintha understands how important financial literacy is to our well-being and health. She is excited to join a team that is passionate about helping the Penn State Community understand financial literacy.

Money Question for Arintha: What advice would you give to someone at the beginning of their financial wellness journey?

"Working in the healthcare industry has made me realize what an impact your finances can have on your well-being. My advice would be, take the time to really understand what financial literacy is. Be intentional in your money decisions. Sometimes small, intentional steps are worth the journey. I would also say it’s never too late to start on the path to financial wellness."

Graduate Assistants

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Eric J. Hunting

Eric J. Hunting is the Graduate Assistant for  the Sokolov-Miller Financial & Life Skills Center. He is an Odawa native and 4th year doctoral student at Penn State University. He is completing a degree in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education with graduate minors in Latina/o Studies and Comparative & International Education. His doctoral work examines learning and decoloniality in the context of Latina/o punk music. He aims to explore how the intersections of Latina/o punk music and urban soundscapes challenge how we learn and where learning occurs. He is the author of a critical reflection to be published in Río Bravo: Journal of the Borderlands, which explores the work of María Lugones as an Odawa native and the idea of complicating space as an act of decoloniality. 


Money Question for Eric: Hold up, you’re a punk scholar? Why do you work in financial wellness?

"Yes! I get asked this question quite a bit. When I began working for Center, I knew very little about financial literacy and I honestly was not sure if I would stick around in my role for long. As I learned more about the core concepts of financial literacy, what the Center provides to the Penn State community, and how much I can help individuals on their financial journeys, I knew this would be a great space to work in. And I was right!  Everyday I learn something different that shapes my understanding of financial health and how I think about money. While financial wellness is not related to my academic interests, it has given me a valuable skill set to navigate many of life’s financial decisions and to speak confidently to others about money."

Student Ambassadors

Jaiden Asch

Jaiden Asch

Jaiden is a Sophomore majoring in finance with a minor in economics. Jaiden has been working at the Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center since Fall 2022, where he's provided presentations on various financial topics across the Penn State campus. In his free time, he likes to keep himself active through playing basketball, cooking, hiking, and traveling!

Money Question for Jaiden: What's your personal money philosophy?

"Ever since I was young, my father always told me that money gave you options. Money doesn't inherently provide you anything good or evil, but it provides you the means to get them. Through using it as motivation to save my income and spend it wisely, I have grown to really appreciate that mindset, where it serves as the backbone to my financial literacy journey."

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Ryley Carroll

Ryley is a first-year student studying Finance at the Smeal College of Business.  He started working with the Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center in January 2024.  He loves working with students, learning about personal finance, and making connections with people all across campus.  Outside of work, Ryley is passionate about classic rock, golf, and Penn State athletics.

Money Question for Ryley: What advice would you give to someone at the beginning of their financial wellness journey?

"Take it slow.  The last thing you want to do with finances is rush into a decision.  Educate yourself and become aware of your options.  Take into consideration yourself, your goals, and be reasonable.  People think finances are a fast-moving, high-risk endeavor but it does not have to be that way.  Slow and steady wins the race."

 

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Holly Deemer

Holly is a junior double majoring in Marketing and Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Media Studies. She has been working at the Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center since Spring 2023 and loves being able to make a direct impact on students' lives and teach skills not typically taught in the college classroom. Outside of  work, Holly is very passionate about THON, enjoys listening to music, and can be frequently seen spending time downtown with friends!


Money Question for Holly: What's something you spent/ spend a lot of money on?

"Something I spend a lot of money (and time) on is my videography and DJ equipment. Something many don’t know about me is that in my free time I’ve ran a business since I was 13 shooting videos of people’s weddings and special occasions. Additionally, buying turntables, speakers, and amps has allowed me to explore my love of music and make money by DJing. The return is high for the industry because you spend a lot of money at first on the equipment and software, but once you pay it off and build your own brand it is pure profit!"

Nick Hotalen

Nick Hotalen

Nick is a sophomore studying Economics and Mathematics. He's been working with the Sokolov-Miller Family Financial & Life Skills Center since Fall 2022 and enjoys teaching others about financial literacy. In his work at the Center, he focuses on giving financial literacy presentations to classes and working with students on a 1:1 basis in the financial coaching space. Outside of work, Nick powerlifts and enjoys watching Penn State Football. Nick is a Certified Financial Peer Mentor as recognized by Fincert.org.

Money Question for Nick: What do you find meaningful about being a financial educator? 

"I find the connections that I've made with the students I work with to be the most meaningful. I truly enjoy helping guide individuals through their finances so they can live their financial lives to the fullest."

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Peter Lanza

Peter is a first year student at the Smeal College of Business studying finance. Peter has been working with the Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center since December 2023 and has enjoyed seeing growth in his own personal finances as well as in his professional career. Outside of work Peter enjoys spending time with friends and family, going to the gym, and golfing. 

Money Question for Peter: What advice would you give to someone at the beginning of their financial wellness journey?

"Relax… it’s ok if you don’t have it all figured out yet. Personal finance is a difficult topic and it often takes months or years to build great habits. If you go over on your budget for a month, it’s not the end of the world. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

Aidan Miller

Aidan Miller

Aidan is a sophomore studying Finance and Economics. He has worked with the Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center since Fall 2022. Aidan is very passionate about finance and assisting people with personal finances. He focuses on giving financial literacy presentations to classes, working with students in 1 on 1 meetings, and is a part of the center’s social media team. Outside of work, Aidan enjoys going to the gym, Philadelphia sports, and spending time with his friends. Aidan is a Certified Financial Peer Mentor as recognized by Fincert.org.

Money Question for Aidan: Why do you work in financial wellness?

"From a young age, I constantly thought about my finances, always striving to secure a stable future. Now, in college, I love assisting fellow students with their financial well-being. Regarding my personal journey, I relate to students on topics such as loans, budgeting, and investment opportunities. Witnessing the positive impact of financial literacy brings me lots of joy, and I love helping Penn State students."

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Saraiha Rossi

Saraiha is a junior studying Management and Marketing at Penn State Hazelton. She is new to the Sokolov- Miller Family Financial Life and Skills Center as of Jan 2024. She started working at the center so she could help others learn about financial wellness and better prepare for the future. When she is not working at the center she enjoys snowboarding, reading, cross-stitching, and cooking.  

Money Question for Saraiha: Why do you work in financial wellness? 

"I started working in financial wellness because I think it is an important topic to know about, and I want to be able to provide people, especially students, with the help and information they need. In high school I never really put much thought into my finances aside from get a job and save. The Center really helped me figure out budgeting and planning, and I want to be able to help other students in the same way."

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Robert Rowland

Robert is a first-year student studying Economics and Finance. Robert has been working with the Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center since December 2023 and enjoys teaching his peers about the benefits of and the path to financial wellness. Outside of work, Robert enjoys playing tennis, getting involved with THON, and hanging out with friends.

Money Question for Robert: Why do you work in financial wellness? 

"I work in financial wellness for two reasons, one is to grow my knowledge and the other is to spread this knowledge to other students who may be seeking advice in financial wellness. In high school, I never took any personal finance or accounting classes, I came here to Penn State completely clueless when it came to financial wellness and other financial knowledge. However, my time working at the center has greatly exceeded that small piece of knowledge I started with - I'm grateful to have the opportunity to improve myself while helping other students!"

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Lance Streuber

Lance is a first year student studying Mechanical Engineering. Lance has been working with the Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center since December 2023 and enjoys teaching his peers about the benefits of and the path to financial wellness. Outside of work, Lance enjoys playing D&D and going hiking in the woods around State College.

Money Question for Lance: What's your favorite money quote or philosophy?

"I’m a big fan of the Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) philosophy. I’ve always wanted to travel and go backpacking across the world, but I also want to make sure I’ve got enough dough in case of emergencies. I believe that it’s fully possible to live your dreams as long as you’ve put in the work to have a solid financial foundation."

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Clarissa Theiss

Clarissa is a sophomore studying Political Science and Criminology. She's worked with the Center since Fall of 2022. In her work as a Financial Literacy Ambassador, Clarissa leads the social media team, presents financial literacy topics to students, and educates the Penn State community on ways to achieve financial wellness. Outside of work, Clarissa enjoys playing music, reading, and competing in mock trial. 

Money Question for Clarissa: What is your favorite money conversation to have with students?

"My favorite money conversation to have with students is salary negotiation. I love helping students build feelings of empowerment and self-advocacy as they prepare to navigate internship and full-time employment opportunities."

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Christina Wanta

Christina is a second-year student studying Telecommunications & Media Industries and Spanish. She has been working with the Sokolov-Miller Family Financial and Life Skills Center since December 2023 and enjoys learning more and teaching others about financial wellness and independence. Outside of work, Christina is a part of Penn State Mock Trial, Her Campus at PSU, and the Caliente Dance Company. She enjoys reading, baking, and exploring new places. 

Money Question for Christina: Who’s your “money mentor” or role model?

"Delyanne Barros, also known as "Delyanne the Money Coach." She is an immigrant from Brazil who struggled with money management, financial literacy, and debt out of college. She then learned about financial independence completely on her own, paid off her debt, and is now retired in her mid-40s and living in Portugal. I aspire to achieve financial independence and not pay attention to other's judgements like she does, and maybe retire in another country as well!"

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Brady Ward

Brady is a first-year student studying Finance and Accounting at the Smeal College of Business. He began working at the Sokolov-Miller Financial and Life Skills Center in January 2024. Brady enjoys expanding his knowledge on various topics within personal finance. He loves to debate on these various topics and share his knowledge. Outside of work, Brady loves to stay active by lifting and running. He is involved in various clubs on campus to better himself and the University.

Money Question for Brady: What do you wish more students understood about money?

"I wish students knew that building your wealth takes time. Most of us will not be lucky enough to win the lottery so to achieve financial freedom we must stick to a plan. A few years ago, I was very interested in day trading to make money. Learn from my mistakes and invest for the long term where you let your money sit and grow. It sounds easy but will be challenging. Compounding interest is one of the great things in the financial world so take advantage of it!"