DES MOINES, Iowa — Some hard work and a little luck has left a handful of graduating seniors at Drake University free of any student-loan debt, and anxiety about wading into the workforce.

Erin Hassanzadeh, Drake University
Credit: Photo by Amanda Horvath

Erin Hassanzadeh, 21, a graduating broadcast major from Bloomington, Minnesota, who has accepted a Fulbright scholarship to teach English in Korea, said she has saved wages from work she has done since she was 13. Her first job was helping out at her parents’ restaurant back home.

She also got help from her parents and a generous scholarship from Drake, she said. “I’m very thankful for that,” she said.

Not having debt gave her freedom to decide what she wanted to do. She said she had three options before taking the teaching job: becoming a full-time employee at KCCI-TV in Des Moines where she has worked part time, accepting a year-long fellowship “that will take me to fun places,” or going out on a limb and aiming for some unexpected offer.

Gwen Baumgardner, Drake University

A fellow graduating broadcast major at Drake this month, Gwen Baumgardner, 22, from Louisburg, Kansas, relied on networking to secure work. She has landed a job as a television reporter in Topeka, Kansas.

Baumgardner said she considers herself fortunate to have received a lot of assistance from Drake through scholarships. Being debt free gave her options, too, when competing for a job.

“Salary-wise, I can lowball it a little bit,” she said.



Meagan Flynn is a junior at Drake University from Huntley, Ill.

Amanda Horvath

Amanda Horvath is a junior at Drake University from Littleton, Colo.

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