Education Credit Union partners with WT to support financial education


Blass Guerrero

Eric Jenkins, President and CEO of Education Credit Union announces new student-led branch

The Education Credit Union has partnered with West Texas A&M University to create a redesigned ECU branch made up of mostly WT students with the goal of helping students to get real work experience and hands-on financial education.

“We have a lot of students that leave with debt that’s more than their starting salary,” said Dr. Walter Wendler, president of WT. “There are a lot of students, even juniors, who already know they’re in trouble with debt.”

On January 19, President Wendler and representatives from ECU partnered to announce a student-led branch called the Buff $mart Branch that will be opened by the Fall semester. (Blass Guerrero)

The new program will help students get work experience from the interview process, create a resume and understand financial services in a bank setting.

The ultimate goal is for students to make better financial decisions after graduation.

“We see first-hand how often young people make financial mistakes that harm their lives decades into the future,” said Eric Jenkins, president and CEO of Education Credit Union. “We see people make poor financial decisions early in life and when they need to buy that first car, buy first home or get a credit card those poor financial decisions make it difficult.”

Construction is underway for a new ECU branch located at 1900 FM2590 in Canyon, Texas. The existing branch at 2100 Fourth Ave. will be converted into the student-led Buff $mart Branch. The student-led branch will have a few management-level staffers helping and training WT students.

“This branch will be led by WT students, and in many cases, they are going to be getting internship credit,” Jenkins said.

All of these jobs will be paid internships. Students will work and learn about banking, credit unions, marketing, finance, accounting, compliance, business and training. Any WT student from any major can apply for the internship.

Students like agriculture major senior Tucker Gattis are excited about the new opportunities coming to WT students through this partnership.

“Even in the agriculture industry, we require banks. We require people who work in financial institutions to support us,” Gattis said. “This is a great opportunity to connect those industries and help students realize there are career opportunities even outside of your major or degree,”

Students will be able to apply for this internship opportunity later in the spring semester and interviews will follow. The new Buff $mart Branch will be open in the Fall 2022 semester.