8th Annual LIFEvest Financial Literacy Program

LIFEvest Grads


“How to Build a Meaningful Life Plan by Creating Lasting Financial and Educational Goals”

The LIFEvest Financial Literacy Program, hosted by the Center for Investment and Wealth Management at the UC Irvine Paul Merage School of Business, is a weeklong, on-campus program dedicated to helping underserved 9th and 10th grade students from Orange, Los Angeles, and Riverside counties. The program, now in its 8th year, is designed for high school students who have the potential to be first generation college students. The program strives to strengthen an understanding in financial matters, expose students to a college campus, encourage admission to a college or university, explore various career fields, teach social etiquette skills, and inspire confidence and success in all areas of life.

Thank you to everyone who took part in making the
2018 LIFEvest: Financial Literacy Summer Residential Program a success!

  • The first program for young women entering the 9th and 10th grade was held from June 24-30.
  • The second program for young men entering the 9th and 10th grade was held from July 8-14.
  • The third program for young women entering the 9th and 10th grade was held from July 22-28.

Online applications for 2019 will be available January 30, 2019.

Why We Do It

Every year, 1.3 million students drop out of high school in the United States. More than half are low-income. Low-income students fail to graduate at five times the rate of middle-income families and six times that of higher-income youth, according to a recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Many high-achieving high school students from low-income families who would like to pursue earning a 4-year degree experience set-backs. Many are confused about how to choose a college or career and lack the understanding about how they can afford a college education.  

With growing income disparity in the U.S. and a financial education not emphasized in schools or at home, a large segment of the population is being “left behind.” Having an understanding of financial fundamentals is paramount to combating poverty and improving our community. In partnership with local non-profit organizations, the LIFEvest program allows students to share their experience and skills gained in financial literacy with their families, peers, and others.

The Students

The LIFEvest program is designed for high achieving, motivated students who have earned a 3.0 and above from low-income households who will be the first in their families to attend college. Students are identified through partnerships with local non-profit organizations, including: Big Brothers Big Sisters, El Viento, El Sol Academy, Kidworks, Operation Jump Start, Project Hope Alliance, The Wooden Floor, Love Beyond Limits, Boys and Girls Club Santa Ana, and the Santa Ana Unified School District.

LIFEvest steering committee members and staff review the applications and select students who meet the program criteria. Each year we receive over 200 applications for 60 spots.

The Curriculum

The LIFEvest program is a 100% immersion program. It is unique to the UC Irvine, as it provides the opportunity for students to experience learning and staying on a college campus. For many, it is the first time they have been separated from their families. The curriculum includes:

  • Building and Tracking a Stock Portfolio: evaluating public companies, stock pricing, calculating net gains/(losses) and annualized returns
  • Careers: relationship between education levels and starting salaries, personal traits assessment, researching career fields, employment trends, and career panels/keynote speakers from specific industries/companies
  • Budgeting and Managing Money: preparing and using a budget, the importance of saving, investing and giving/paying it forward, use of debt, time value of money, and planning for retirement
  • College Planning: college types, factors to consider when choosing a college, selecting a college based on personal desires for career specialties/college experience, and paying for college (grants, loans and costs)
  • High School Graduation: graduation requirements, college admission requirements, NCAA eligibility, SAT/ACT testing, and extracurricular activities
  • Networking: how networking can assist in the search process for internships or part-time jobs, college acceptances and professional career opportunities, creating a LinkedIn profile, and introduction to the concept of mentorship
  • Computer and Presentation Skills: conducting Internet research and developing computer skills, working in Microsoft Word and Excel, and PowerPoint.

During the course of the program, students create individual “Life Plan” PowerPoint presentations, which they share with faculty, staff and their families during graduation ceremonies.

The curriculum is augmented by activities that include: attending UC Irvine athletic events, selecting business attire, dinner etiquette practice and trips to the corporate headquarters of Taco Bell and PAAMCO.

The Impact

  • In the past seven years, the LIFEvest program has benefited over 270 students.
  • Over 90% of students in the first graduating class are applying to college.
  • It is our goal to double the size of the program over the next five years, providing student scholarships.
  • CIWM is collaborating with our nonprofit partners to compile data about the high school achievements and college application rates of LIFEvest alumni.
  • CIWM is developing an alumni/legacy mentorship program for LIFEvest program alumni to develop relationships with current program participants.  This program will provide guidance and support helping students’ reach various academic milestones.

About Us

The Campus

Founded in 1965, the University of California, Irvine combines the strengths of a major research university with the bounty of an incomparable Southern California location. UCI’s unyielding commitment to rigorous academics, cutting-edge research, and leadership and character development makes the campus a driving force for innovation and discovery that serves our local, national and global communities in many ways.

With more than 35,000 students, 1,200 faculty members and 10,000 staff, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system. Increasingly a first-choice campus for students, UCI ranks among the top U.S. universities in the number of undergraduate applications and continues to admit freshmen with highly competitive academic profiles. Orange County’s second-largest employer, UCI generates an annual economic impact on the county of $4 billion.

The university is noted for its top-rated research and graduate programs, extensive commitment to undergraduate education, and growing number of professional schools and programs of academic and social significance. Recent additions include public health, pharmaceutical sciences and nursing science programs, as well as a new School of Law that graduated its first students in 2012.

The Center

The Center for Investment and Wealth Management's mission is to create and disseminate vital, applicable research and knowledge concerning the creation, management and inter-generational transfer of wealth. The Center is gaining national recognition as a source of cutting-edge research and innovative programs that advance our understanding of and successful practice in the field of wealth management, including all of its relevant disciplines and audiences.

The School

The Paul Merage School of Business at UC Irvine offers four dynamic MBA programs – plus PhD, specialty masters and undergraduate business degrees – that prepare business leaders for our digitally driven world. Through our programs, students acquire the exceptional ability to grow their organizations through strategic innovation, analytical decision-making, digital information technology and collaborative execution. While the Merage School is relatively young, it has quickly grown to rank consistently among the top five percent of all business programs worldwide through exceptional student recruitment, world-class faculty, a strong alumni network and close relationships with both individual business executives and global corporations.

Program Costs

It costs $2,100 to send a student to the UCI CIWM LIFEvest Financial Literacy Summer Residential Program; however, the program tuition comes at no cost to the student and is completely funded by the Center and its sponsors.

Expenses include:  

  • Housing in the residence halls
  • On-site UC Irvine student residential advisors
  • Instructional materials
  • Meals and snacks
  • Transportation to activities
  • Orientation and graduation ceremonies for program participants and their families

Funding is not provided by UC Irvine, The Paul Merage School of Business or the State of California. Students who are selected to participate in the LIFEvest program, do so at no cost.

Involvement Opportunities

All donations directly support the LIFEvest student scholarships. It is the Center’s goal to create an endowment or receive multiple year pledges from donors to provide LIFEvest program scholarships to at least 60 students annually. Together, we can create a brighter future – helping teens build a meaningful life plan by creating lasting financial and educational goals.

Become a Sponsor

Sponsor-A-Scholar ($2,100)

  • Make a positive difference in the life of one student by enabling him or her to attend the week-long program free of charge. This amount includes housing, meals, transportation and materials.

Endowed UCI CIWM LIFEvest Student Scholarship ($50,000)

  • Support 9th and 10 grade students from underserved communities in becoming the next generation of industry leaders by endowing a student scholarship in perpetuity. The gift is payable over five years.

Endowed UCI CIWM LIFEvest Financial Literacy Program Naming Sponsor ($3,000,000)

  • Name the LIFEvest Financial Literacy Program, honoring a family or corporate legacy. Your gift would allow the program to continue in perpetuity and for the Center to explore follow-up initiatives for our scholars, assisting and tracking them throughout their academic careers. This gift is payable over five years.

Become a "Friendraiser"

2018 Volunteers and Sponsors, there are many ways to get involved!

  • Become a "Friendraiser"
  • Host a corporate event
  • Host a team building event
  • Participate during the week as a volunteer
Please contact Lee Anne Maki at or 949.824.2675 for more information.

Parent Testimonials

My daughter is Raquel Ornelas and she participated in LIFEvest about 4 years ago. Since then Raquel was awarded a 4-year scholarship for high school over 200k! She still remembers the program and will take about it to friends from time to time. I myself believe that this is a great course for teenagers.

– Juana O. (Racquel’s Mother) –

The UCI LIFEvest Financial Literacy “blessed” my daughter Malia with incredible and priceless information and most of all, great insight into the financial industry. We are grateful!

– Gale N. (Malia’s Mother) –

Student Testimonials

What are the top 3 things you learned from the Financial Literacy Program and how have they helped you?

I learned about stocks and bonds and how to handle a business of my own. This program has helped train me to own my own business as well as how to build a strong relationship with the people you work with. You can't just show up to work and not interact with other employees, you have to show up and treat others with respect so that you can still operate your business successfully.

I learned to develop better speaking skills during the time that I was there and now I'm able to present in front of groups without being timid. I also learned how to work better in teams. The group project that we worked on helped me get a better understanding of how to manage a group, the time, and share responsibilities to get the job done. All these things that I learned have helped me become a better developed student.

I learned many things from the Financial Literacy Program that have currently helped me in many ways. One of the biggest things I learned at this program that will always stay with me is that it doesn't matter what situation you come from, if you have the willpower and put effort into everything you do, you can accomplish almost anything. Hearing other people's stories have really encouraged me and have made me work harder towards my dreams.

I learned many things in this program, but three of the things I will never forget is increasing my confidence, learning how to handle money ,and knowing my limits.

LIFEvest Alumni Are an Important Part of the UCI Paul Merage School of Business Family Network

The Center helps LIFEvest alumni stay informed and connected by hosting various annual events, such as the Angels Baseball Game event at Angels Stadium held in September 2017. In addition, the Center recently began a series of monthly newsletters, “The Legacy”, and sent to its LIFEvest alumni. Based on what grade they’re in, “The Legacy” provides alumni educational information to help refresh what they learned during LIFEvest and important tips to help them throughout their high school career. Not only do students form a bond with their new “brothers and sisters” during the weeklong LIFEvest program, they become part of the UCI CIWM family.

LIFEvest Alumni

Program Committee

Laurie Dubchansky, CFP®Laurie Dubchansky, CFP®
LIFEvest Committee Chairperson
Havaplan Financial

I received my undergraduate degree at UCLA, and after earning a Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration, I worked in various health care settings. I married my junior-high school sweetheart, Scott! After raising two great kids, I managed a non-profit for several years, and then decided to pursue an education in Personal Financial Planning at UCLA Extension. I passed the CFP exam in March 2015 while working for Inspired Financial. Now, I embark on my own business, Havaplan Financial to serve those with financial concerns, including planning for retirement, but without regard to current wealth accumulation.

I am an active member of the Financial Planning Association of Orange County, and I enjoy volunteering to provide pro-bono financial education. I am on the UCI Merage School of Business LifeVest steering committee. LifeVest provides intensive life planning and financial literacy training each summer for underserved 9th students in Orange County. I greatly enjoy philanthropy, supporting non-profit organizations focusing on education, hunger and homelessness.

I enjoy high-volume baking, often 300 cookies, brownies or scones.

I’m a football fan, and I love hosting Super Bowl parties! I love hiking, spinning and Zumba! Scott and I usually celebrate our anniversary by traveling to a cold climate for a football game!

Shawnette GauerShawnette Gauer
Charles Schwab Advisor Services

Shawnette Gauer is a Managing Director for Charles Schwab Advisor Services, with responsibility for managing the Southern California Relationship Management team. The Southern California team supports advisors located in Orange and San Diego Counties, as well as the Inland Empire and Palm Desert area.

Previously, Shawnette was Vice President of Investments at Bolthouse Properties, a single family office where she was responsible for managing the investment portfolio, foundation assets, and overseeing the operations and technology of the investment division. A 25 year veteran of the advisor industry, Shawnette has also owned her own RIA firm which she sold after 13 years in order to spend time at home with her family. She has also worked for a boutique wealth management firm in Newport Beach responsible for client relationships, financial planning, and investment management.

Shawnette is a board member of the UC Irvine’s CIWM where she also serves on the Financial Literacy Committee. The committee offers a week long summer residential program for underprivileged youth. Shawnette earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from UC Irvine and maintains her Certified Financial Planner designation. She also holds Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Series 7, 63, and 24 licenses.

Mark MoehlmanMark Moehlman
LIFEvest Chair Emeritus
Beacon Pointe Wealth Advisors

Mark Moehlman (Chair emeritus) holds an MBA from the USC Marshall School of Business, and has dedicated his entire business career to helping others manage their wealth. Mark was born in Los Angeles and moved to Newport Beach in 1975, and has lived in Big Canyon for the past fifteen years. Mr. Moehlman founded Wealth Management Corporation, the first of its kind, in 1987, the same year he launched his Wealth Management Forum.

Mark served as a trustee of the Orange County Employees Retirement System (O.C.E.R.S.) from 1993 to 1996, helping shepherd the fund virtually unscathed through the county’s bankruptcy. Mr. Moehlman was the Founding Chair of the Center for Investment and Wealth Management (C.I.W.M.) of the UC Irvine Merage School of Business, and continues to be very active in both C.I.W.M. and the UCI Chancellor’s Club. Mark is married to Dr. Cherilyn Sheets, a prominent Newport Beach dentist, and has one daughter, Melisa, who lives and works in New York City.

Chad BollenbachChad Bollenbach
Canterbury Consulting

Chad Bollenbach is an investment consultant to families and institutions and assists clients with asset allocation, portfolio construction and wealth strategies. Prior to joining Canterbury, Mr. Bollenbach was a senior wealth advisory analyst for Capital Group Private Client Services focusing on asset allocation and investment planning. He previously worked at Trenwith Securities as an investment banking associate and at AXA Advisors as a financial consultant. Mr. Bollenbach received an MA in Latin American studies and BA in international relations from Stanford University.

Stuart BlairStuart Blair
Canterbury Consulting

As the Director of Research, Mr. Blair is responsible for all functions related to research on investment managers, asset classes, and capital markets. Mr. Blair oversees the activities for all five of Canterbury’s Asset Class Committees and the Capital Markets Committee. Prior to joining Canterbury, Mr. Blair was the Director of Public Equity and Research at Sobrato Capital, the securities investment platform of The Sobrato Organization. There his responsibilities included broad asset class research, manager due diligence on public and private assets, and tax optimization of both taxable investment pools and a large charitable foundation. Prior to Sobrato Capital, Mr. Blair was a Senior Analyst at Canterbury where he focused on asset allocation, manager research, and capital market assumptions. Mr. Blair holds a BS in Finance from California State University, Long Beach and is a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst.

Wendy ChenWendy Chen
Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management

Wendy Chen is a relationship manager in CIBC Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management's Newport Beach office, with more than 16 years of industry experience. In this role, her primary focus is to manage client relationships and implement strategies designed to help clients achieve their financial goals.

She also works closely with clients and their advisors to create and implement tailored wealth management solutions and contributes to several of the firm’s employee engagement and women’s initiatives.

Wendy earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in legal studies from the University of California, Berkeley and volunteers with the German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County. Additionally, she sits on the advisory board for the Center of Investment and Wealth Management at the University of California, Irvine's Paul Merage School of Business.

Hyun SwansonHyun Swanson
UC Office of the President

Hyun Swanson Hyun is a seasoned benefits professional with 20 years of experience. Early in her career, she was a consultant at Arthur Andersen and Ernst & Young, helping clients design and implement competitive benefit programs. She then moved into an internal HR role as global benefits manager at AES Corporation, overseeing health and retirement plans strategy and administration.

Hyun joined the University Of California’s Office of the President in 2013 as Manager of Benefits Education. Among her many responsibilities is managing the systemwide retirement savings plan communications and education program, which features a robust set of resources to help UC faculty and staff build retirement readiness. “Success” to her means that employees understand UC’s generous retirement benefits, as well as make smart financial decisions that will ensure that their money lasts through retirement.

Hyun holds a BA in Economics from Johns Hopkins and a MPH from Yale. An East Coast native, she currently lives with her husband and two kids in beautiful Irvine, CA.

Feroz AnsariFeroz Ansari
Compak Asset Management

Senior Principal and Portfolio Manager. He is a CFP® (Certified Financial Planner™) certificant. He holds an MIM (Masters of International Management) degree from ASU - Thunderbird, Graduate School of International Management, Arizona, and an MBA from the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi, Pakistan. He has completed risk management, trading, portfolio management, leadership and financial management programs at The Oxford University in England, INSEAD in France, Citibank Training Center-Singapore, Euromoney in New York and Emirates Bank Training Center in Dubai. Feroz Ansari published a research paper dealing with dual exchange rate mechanisms and has conducted training programs for treasury management and foreign exchange.

Prior to joining Compak, Feroz worked in banking and treasury management. He held positions at Banque Indosuez, Faysal Bank and Emirates Bank International. Feroz has over 22 years of experience in banking, treasury management, asset allocation and asset management. He started his career in 1993 as a Treasury Associate at Banque Indosuez and held the Position of Treasurer, Head of Treasury & Corporate Banking and Deputy General Manager at Emirates Bank.

Feroz enjoys playing golf with his two boys and he loves to read and stay informed. He likes to travel to different places to play golf with his boys. He has had one “hole in one” and his lowest score was 79, but that was 15 years ago! Now he is happy to break 90. Feroz has a passion for reading and learning. He belongs to a local book club that is mostly comprised of his close friends.

Feroz has also been selected to serve on the Client Advisory Council of Wealth Advisor Services at Fidelity Investment Institutional Service Company. He is also active in the local community. He serves on the Board of Advisors of University of California-Irvine’s Center for Investment and Wealth Management (CIWM). At CIWM he serves on numerous “Financial Literacy” sub-committees.

Rebecca ChauRebecca Chau

Is an Account Management Analyst at PAAMCO and received her Bachelors in Business Administration from the University of California, Irvine.

Kara Duckworth, CFP ®Kara Duckworth, CFP®
LIFEvest Chair Emeritus
Duckworth Wealth Advisors

Kara is a wealth manager and the firm’s Chief Compliance Officer. She manages client relationships, provides financial planning services and serves on the firm’s investment committee. Think of her as a friend who will tell you the truth. Kara also manages the firm’s personal office services. To Kara, seeing a client achieve a dream is the most rewarding part of her job.

Named a “5-Star Wealth Manager” by Orange Coast magazine, Kara attended UC Riverside and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. She is a Certified Financial Planner® and a member of the Financial Planning Association. Kara sits on the board of the Center for Investment and Wealth Management for the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine. As if that doesn’t keep her busy enough, she also chaired the steering committee for the school’s Financial Literacy Summer Residential Program for five years.

Thank you to our 2018 Sponsors and Donors

  • Experian (W. Chen)
  • Feyzi Fatehi
  • Jordan and Dan Floriani
  • Shawnette Gauer
  • Vijay Gurbaxani (Merage School Professor)
  • Dennis John Heid Memorial Scholarship Foundation 
  • Mercer Advisors
  • Pacific Alternative Asset Management Company (PAAMCO)
  • Pacific Life Foundation
  • Pam and Andrew Policano in Honor of Pam Adams
  • Ross Foundation
  • Ross Stores
  • Thomas L. Schreiber
  • Schweppe Family
  • Taco Bell
  • UBS
  • US Bank
  • Windes

Non-profit Partners and High Schools

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