Andrew Allen ’18 came to UCF with a mission; Study hard and be among the first in his family to graduate from college.

At the end of the Fall 2018 semester he accomplished just that by earning a bachelor’s of arts in graphic design with a minor in marketing.

“I know my family is proud of me,” Allen says. “I wanted to inspire them, too, to pursue college and finish and reach their goals.”

In between all his hard work, Allen accumulated accomplishments that are enviable. He arrived at UCF with a Bright Futures Scholarship and several other academic scholarships. And while at the university he’s been on the President’s Honor Roll and Dean’s List, and has been the recipient of the Excellence in Action Award, Project Best Most Active Member and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars Award.

But Allen says he is most proud of having worked in the Office of Student Financial Assistance, helping brand and promote the ¢ent$ible Knight$ campaign, UCF’s campuswide program which encourages financial wellness among students.

Launched in 2015, the ¢ent$ible Knight$ program guides students to resources and webinars to stay on sound financial footing. It has a website, social media pages and marketing materials. The program offers webinars and seminars on everything from how to negotiate a salary to establishing strong personal budgets. By 2017, nearly 400 online financial aid tutorials have been completed by students at UCF and the average student score on the financial literacy assessments is 84 percent.

“When I first started working with the program, I didn’t even know it existed,” Allen says . “So that was our goal, to create a campaign to drive more students to the website, give them great content there and through social media and just help them understand that there are tools to help them budget and pay for college.”

He took to the work easily, says Karemah Manselle, associate director of the Office of Student Financial Assistance, who credits Allen with helping the program grow so quickly.

“Andrew immediately began to come up with creative ways to reach the student body and developed phenomenal marketing pieces,” she says. “He has truly has been an integral part of the branding of the Cent$ible Knight$ program.”

The program has been recognized by as one of the top 50 financial-literacy programs on a college campus, she says.

“[Andrew] is a visionary and talented young man. Additionally, he is humble and well-rounded,” Manselle says. “He managed to maintain a high GPA while working two jobs and being actively involved. He is a true embodiment of the UCF Creed. Andrew truly has all the requisite tools needed to chart his own path.”

As part of his campus job, Allen says he learned a great deal about marketing on a college campus.  Along the way, he’s taken the very advice he helps promote and graduated without major debt.

“The skills promote[d] there, they work,” Allen says.

His freshman year, he struggled financially and took out a student loan.

“I didn’t want my parents to sacrifice their resources for me, because it [was] hard for them,” he says. “They helped me all they could, but I didn’t want that burden on them.”

So he got some help from financial-aid advisors, made the most of scholarships and applied for financial aid early. He was on a budget, which he stuck to faithfully, although he admitted it was tough.

“I really needed a car and I saved up for that,” he says. “I wanted to pay off the $1,200 in student loans I had [at the time too.] But I’m stuck to the budget. I needed that car first.”

Allen has considered going back to school for another degree later because for him “the learning process never stops.”

As for his family, they were worried when he left South Florida for Orlando, and “they called every day,” he says. But after a few years they got into “the groove of things,” he says.

“My family knew this was something I could achieve, to get my degree and reach the next level,” he says. “I got awards for academics. I took my education very seriously. They see I am focused and that I’m not worried about trivial things.”