If there was one thing that Ionnie McNeill learned a lot about while growing up, it was money.
When Ionnie was only seven years old, her mother began sharing the world of finance with her young daughter through investment meetings and finance clubs for kids. “I was exposed to investing so early on that I couldn’t really say whether I liked or didn’t like it,” Ionnie said. “I didn’t know what I liked yet.”
As things turned out, not only did Ionnie like investing, she grew to LOVE it! She began building her stock portfolio while still in elementary school, and by middle school she had followed in her entrepreneur mother’s footsteps and started her own business teaching other children about investing. At age 12, Ionnie was the keynote speaker at the Building Wealth Conference in New York City, and “The Baby Billionaire,” as she calls herself, has continued to accept nationwide public speaking engagements ever since.
By high school, there was no doubt that Ionnie was a girl who was going places. So it’s no surprise that winning the top $10,000 prize in Guardian Insurance’s “Girls Going Places” competition became the first of her many scholarship successes. But winning scholarships wasn’t as easy for Ionnie as sitting back and watching her stock profits steadily rise. “The biggest challenge that I faced was not being awarded many of the scholarships that I initially applied for, because I did not meet the financial need requirement,” Ionnie said.
Yes, Ionnie had more monetary assets than many high school students do, but she knew that her financial resources would not stretch far enough to cover the tuition costs of graduating from her dream school, Howard University in Washington DC. Serious scholarship winnings were necessary if Ionnie wished to achieve her educational goals, and before she was through, the determined young lady had collected $100,750 in awards.
“You cannot win anything if you don’t apply. The most important part of life is just showing up. Therefore, the more applications you complete and submit, the better your chances are at winning.”
While doggedly pursuing scholarships, Ionnie stayed organized and on top of the game by creating individual folders for each scholarship she applied for. She treated the applications as if they were assigned homework, making it a priority to complete and submit each one on time.
Now working toward a master degree in accounting, Ionnie most appreciates the fringe benefits that accompanied her scholarship winnings: “… most of the major scholarships that I won gave me national recognition for my entrepreneurship endeavors. So, not only did they help pay for school, but I also used them to market my business.”
Photo: Pittsburgh Courier