Source: Mastercard

Brianna Thompson grew up mere miles from the opulent playgrounds of Hamptons, but her hometown of Hampton Bays is working class, and she was the first generation in her family to attend college.

Mindful of the sobering statistics about low-income first-generation college students — only 11% complete their degree within six years — she established an annual scholarship at her high school for these students.

That was only five years after she herself graduated from high school.

“I think the most empowering thing as I am getting older and further on in my career is to be in a position where you actually feel like you can make a difference,” she says. 

On the latest episode of “Inside the Circles,” Mastercard’s podcast about the future of work and the topics of now, host Latoya Bennett-Johnson chats with Thompson, a two-time intern at Mastercard who is now an account management director for North America, about her career journey and her passion for uplifting her community. 

Thompson started working at Mastercard upon graduation from Baruch College with a bachelor's in business administration and quickly advanced while working toward her MBA. But immediately after being hired, she starting thinking about how she could help other first-generation college students gain confidence and continue their education. 

With her signing bonus, she created a self-funded scholarship to be awarded to a Hampton Bays High School graduate who would also be a first-generation college student, and she continues to fund the award every year. After being named one of Mastercard's volunteers of the year through the company's CEO Force for Good Awards, she was able to fund five scholarships with a donation from the company.

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