Looking back on her college years at Marian University, Amber Ferrari knows one thing for sure: “College is what you put into it,” she says. “It’s not like a college can hand you an awesome experience. You have to do it yourself.”
That DIY attitude helped Ferrari persist in her pursuit of an “awesome” experience, close to home and at a price she could afford. A first-generation college student whose mother signed her up for the 21st Century Scholarship program when she was in middle school, Ferrari sometimes felt a sense of insecurity about her family’s lack of financial resources at Cardinal Ritter High School in Indianapolis. “I was never taunted or teased, but I did have that insecurity, that feeling that being a 21st Century Scholar meant ‘I am one of the poor kids.’”
Going to college just down the street from her high school was not always her first choice, but Marian University offered Ferrari the best financial package to help her finance her college goals. And it turned out to be a great fit: Ferrari lived on campus for three years and then lived at home her senior year to save money. As a result, she’s graduating with very little student loan debt.
Her first job is in marketing with PactSafe, a tech startup in Indianapolis, where she hopes to learn to do “a little bit of everything” in marketing, communications and sales before looking at a master’s degree.
“I am looking for work experience first, before I dive in,” Ferrari says. “That comes from the 21st Century mindset: I definitely know the value of a dollar. I don’t want a lot more debt tacked onto my student loans.”
But college was more than just about saving money for Ferrari. She took advantage of every opportunity that came her way, whether it was meeting with professors, finding an internship, working on campus peace and justice events, leadership conferences, or even just having fun at football games. She also stayed active with 21st Century Scholars and helped build the mentoring program at Marian.
Ferrari’s takeaway from her college experience: “We are all able to be successful, no matter what our background,” she says. “I tried to take it and turn it into a sense of empowerment. Being a 21st Century Scholar is a great opportunity. You don’t have an excuse not to get the job done because you have this amazing scholarship opportunity.”
Graduated: Marian University 2015
First job: Pactsafe, an Indianapolis tech startup