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Beating the Odds on the Way to UCLA: MBA Grad Mavrick Goodrich Shares His Inspiring Journey and How He’s Tackling Six Figures of Student Debt

In our latest SoFi member spotlight, we catch up with Mavrick Goodrich to discuss the events which lead to his UCLA undergrad, pursuing his MBA and furthering his career as a Management Consultant. It’s a moving tale of resilience, learning and always moving forward – personally, professionally and financially. 

Name: Mavrick Goodrich

Age: 32

Locale: Chicago, IL

Alma Maters: UCLA (undergrad) and University of Chicago, Booth School of Business (MBA)

By Day: Management Consultant

SoFi Member Since: 2015

SoFi Loan : ~$126,000

SoFi Savings: $13,252

When Mavrick Goodrich was a teenager, going to college was the last thing on his mind. He had more pressing concerns. For most of his high school years, he and his mother were struggling to keep a roof over their heads, bouncing from motels to friends’ homes to homeless shelters in Los Angeles. “It’s hard to think about long-term goals when you’re focused on short-term needs,” says Mavrick.

Then, in his sophomore year, a chance opportunity gave Mavrick a glimpse of a different future. At a friend’s suggestion, he attended Law Camp, formally known as the Summer Law Institute on the UCLA campus, and quickly decided that college was in the cards after all. He worked hard, turned his grades around, and eventually returned to UCLA as an undergrad.

Mavrick continued to defy the odds through his academic achievements at UCLA, and later while earning his MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. But while his ambition and intelligence served him well in school and when starting his career, he had to learn many financial lessons the hard way—including how to manage six-figure student loan debt without letting it control him.

What was your path to college like?

I had a pretty normal childhood and was fortunate enough to go to good elementary schools, but I never thought about going to college. It wasn’t something that my family talked about early on. Then, when I was 10, my parents separated and my dad moved overseas. Although my mother is smart and strong-willed, she simply couldn’t support us on her own, and our financial situation deteriorated.

Recommended: Going From $54K in Debt to Saving For a Wedding and House – An Interview With SoFi Member Deanna Krinn

By the time I got to high school, we started moving around Los Angeles every month or two, staying at friends’ houses and motels for a while. We finally ended up in a homeless shelter. With so much uncertainty in my life, college was the last thing on my mind.

What happened to change that?

My older sister attended college, and that got me thinking about the idea. Then, in the summer after my sophomore year, I attended the Summer Law Institute at UCLA with a friend. It was my first time on the UCLA campus. We stayed in the dorms, went to classes, and got the whole experience. I was awestruck by the environment—I realized, this is where I want to be.

Up to that point, while I felt I was intellectually capable, I hadn’t applied myself in school. I took being smart for granted. But thinking about going to college made me realize that I would have to prove my abilities through high performance. Fortunately, there were a few inspirational teachers at Los Angeles High School who were aware of my situation, and they encouraged me to reach my potential. My grades turned around immediately.

Did you apply to UCLA because of your time there in high school?

Experiencing the campus firsthand was a big factor. I liked that UCLA offered everything a college should offer—academic rigor, athletic tradition, and people from all over the country with different backgrounds and interests. I remember thinking I’d be proud to wear the school letters.

What was your favorite thing about UCLA?

In high school, I didn’t participate in a lot of things because of my situation. For example, I couldn’t play sports because I didn’t have health insurance. But at UCLA, there were tons of opportunities to try new things, and I took advantage of them. I remember feeling overwhelmed by all of the academic and extracurricular opportunities. I joined a fraternity, was a campus orientation counselor, and an RA. I also got involved with athletic teams and even played the role of the UCLA mascot, Joe Bruin, for a couple of years.

Did college turn things around for you financially, as you had hoped?

It definitely opened a lot of doors, thanks to my degree in chemical engineering, but my finances didn’t improve as quickly as I thought they would. I earned academic scholarships to cover most of my tuition, but I had to take out loans and open credit cards to help with living expenses at college. I didn’t have a solid understanding of how to manage money, so I graduated with some debt and pretty bad credit.

After college, I had a very rewarding career, but there came a point where I knew a formal education in business was right for me. So I decided to return to school to get my MBA. Since I was still building my financial foundation, some of my student loans had unfavorable interest rates, which made taking on debt a bit scary. However, I knew that an MBA would improve my skills and elevate my situation. Today, I absolutely love my career as a management consultant.

How did you get your financial situation under control?

When I was younger, I naively thought that just making more money was the answer to all my financial problems. What I learned, however, was that more money is not a substitute for proper financial management. I was relentless in educating myself on financial literacy, but the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know. The horizon keeps expanding. It took time, but through assiduous trial and error, I eventually got there.

Related: Mental Health, Finances, and Moustaches – SoFi Member, JJ Owen, Director of Development for the Movember Foundation Connects The Dots on Men’s Health Issues

When I discovered I could refinance my 10-year student loans from a 6.75% weighted average rate and reduce it by over 2 points, it felt like a reflection of how far I’d come. It was the reward for all the hard work I had put in to get to college, earn my MBA, establish a successful career, and take better care of my finances. I felt like I finally had control of my financial life. Plus, refinancing saved me over $13,000 in interest.

What advice would you give people in situations similar to yours?

When I was in business school, I met a bright young man on the train who had just been released from prison. Something he said has stuck with me: “People ask for the big before they master the small.”

When I was young, I thought I’d use my intelligence and ambition to improve my situation, get a great job, make a lot of money, and blow everyone away. And while I’ve come a long way since being homeless in high school, it wasn’t the experience you see in the movies, where everything gets better in one smooth montage. Instead, I made a lot of mistakes along the way, and I had to learn from them. I had to master the small before I could achieve the big. I think that’s what achievement is for most of us—a series of small accomplishments that add up to something extraordinary.

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