Course Credit: Student-run credit union grand re-opening held

Tulare County Federal Credit Union at Porterville High is a student run and operated branch of the credit union that's open to high school students. It's a great way for them to open checking and savings accounts and learn about financial literacy.

The credit union held its grand re-opening on Tuesday. A grand -reopening had been held every year for the credit union but it was the first time the grand re-opening could be held since the COVID pandemic.

Madison Lerma and Jazmym Torres who work at the Credit Union are both former PHS students, with Lerna being a Fraud Specialist and Torres being the Member Service Representative.

Students need to belong to the Pathway Academy of Business and Finance to work at the Credit Union, where they get real life work experiences working in a financial institution.

Lizet Garcia is a teller at TCFCU, and said working there is helping her with customer skills and expanding her knowledge of financial literacy.

Yadira Moron, a senior at PHS, who has been working at TCFCU for two years, explained the credit union is non-profit and member owned. And they value their members and the students of PHS. 

"My favorite part of this program is that we get to provide a jumpstart for the students on financial literacy. Not only do we provide them with this knowledge," she said, "but we are a student-run branch offering guidance for our peers. Not only do we know the students, but we are here for them." 

Both Michele Halopoff, a PAB teacher, and Brenda Diaz, Financial Education Coordinator, said they're proud of their partnership with TCFCU. They said the credit union was started in 2015 and it's been going strong ever since.

The student run credit union is like a classroom and a job at the same time, said Torres.

Also in order for the students to be tellers at the PHS branch, they have to have the same skills as a teller at any other branch. This is the real thing.

Torres was part of the first class to open the PHS branch of the credit union in 2015-2016 when she was an intern.

After graduation she attended Fresno State and was hired as a member support officer.

“The credit union along with the PAB Pathway program has grown,” Diaz said. “We have had more students go through our program and we keep growing.

“Our No. 1 priority is to teach financial literacy and develop oru student interns with real life work experience in a financial institution.”

State Assemblyman Devon Mathis' office was represented at Tuesday's grand re-opening and presented a certificate of recognition to the credit union. Source: Porterville Recorder