Kansas State University


Personal Financial Planning

Alumni Spotlight- Kari Christensen

An interview with Kari Christensen, a 2012 graduate.

  • Where are you from? Where do you live now?

I grew up in Wichita, KS. After graduating from Kansas State, I moved to Arizona and lived there for a few years. I loved my time in AZ and thought that’s where I would put down roots, but after a few years I decided that moving back to Kansas was the right direction for me. I have been in Wichita again for almost 3 years now and have plans to keep Kansas as my home base, but who can really say?!

  • What is your background?

After graduating, I worked for a fee-only financial planning firm in Arizona as their junior planner for two years. The experience I received was phenomenal and during this time I studied and passed the CFP® exam.  I then moved back to Kansas and took a slightly different route for a couple of years, putting my CFP® certification on hold as I still needed one more year of work experience to become certified. I had received an equine certificate at Kansas State and found a non-profit organization doing horse therapy when I moved back to Kansas that I became a part of. Horses were used to connect and heal the hearts of women. It was quite a beautiful thing and that experience coupled with the planning experience I now have has equipped me for my current position and most certainly for future endeavors.

  • What do you do now?

Now I work as a Financial Education Specialist at a credit union in Wichita and am a Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor (CCUFC). My job is to counsel and educate our credit union members in one-on-one appointments or class setting on income and expense planning (budgeting), debt management, and credit. This is a free service to any member of the credit union. My heart is for people to understand the foundations and basic principles of managing their cash flow on their own, which is exactly what I get to do each day in this position. I love waking up and going to work.

I am in the midst of finishing my CFP® experience requirements and also hope to obtain the Accredited Financial Counselor designation at some point in the near future as well. 

  • When you were choosing programs, why did you choose K-State PFP?

 I started out my freshman and two weeks into my sophomore year in the Interior Design program. After discovering that wasn’t the right fit for me, I searched around for the rest of the semester or so. Growing up, my father frequently talked with me about money and I understood quickly that this was an area in which many people struggled. As I was searching for a new career path, I was seeking for something where I could interact with people and have an impact on their lives directly. One of the greatest aspects of the PFP program is that the focus is on people. Everything in our lives revolves around relationships. So joining this program, I felt it would be the perfect combination to focus on my love of being with people and desire to help with their personal finances.

  •  How has your education in PFP enhanced your current career path? 

 The PFP program has been the foundation of my career path. graduated with skills that gave me confidence in working in this industry and I was set up perfectly to sit for the CFP® exam. After graduation, I was a desired potential employee for many employers due to my credentials from this program and it opened up many opportunities. These are opportunities I never would have received otherwise and I’m not sure I can describe on paper how each opportunity has shaped me into who I am and the joy that I have living the life I’m living.

  • What recommendations would you make for future financial planners? 

 Don’t be afraid to try new things or take an internship or job that you aren’t sure you will absolutely love. Experience is experience and it all will help you find out the aspects of being a financial planner/counselor (or whatever path you carve for yourself) that you enjoy most as well as those things that you’d rather not do. Through your experience and time, you’ll discover more about yourself and how you would like to focus your attention. From there you can then find or create a position that allows you to direct your energy into doing the heart of what drives you – comprehensive planning, investments, counseling, taxes, teaching, etc.

  • What kinds of awards have you received?

Well, I don’t think I’ve received any awards since college! But I would have to say that the testimonies and appreciation of those who I serve are my awards. I may not have plaques and certificates in my office at the moment, but there is a wall full of sticky notes filled with the thanks and gratitude of others hidden in my heart.

  • What kinds of things do you do in your community? 

 I have really been working on not stretching myself so thin in activities so I can focus on giving more of my time and attention to fewer things. Right now, I actively serve in the church and volunteer at a care home for the elderly and enjoy these things very much.

  • What are your hobbies/interests? What do you do for fun?

 I spend a lot of time with my family. I love trying to new things, meeting people, and laughing loudly at ridiculous things. I am intrigued with history and hearing the wisdom of others. I’m usually always singing or humming and have hopes to start learning to play the piano soon. Curling up on the couch with the fireplace going is a favorite. Riding horses and being in nature soothes my soul. I love to travel and have plans to travel this entire world—climbing mountains, exploring the jungle, and one day walking the Sea of Galilee.