Professional photo of Manoj Varghese
Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Board Spotlight Manoj Varghese

ACEE values the culture, traditions, and history of our supporters. Join us in celebrating Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

Q: How did your family and culture influence who you are today? 

Three high school students wearing leis completing a financial literacy activity at a tall table.

The influence of Indian culture and family on my personal and intellectual development has been significant. Growing up in a close-knit family and community, I learned the value of strong relationships and the importance of supporting and caring for each other. The focus on education in my household was unwavering, with my parents encouraging me to read and learn about a diverse set of subjects, even those that challenged my existing beliefs. This created a sense of intellectual curiosity and a deep appreciation for diverse perspectives, which have been invaluable in my personal and professional growth.

The rich cultural heritage of India has also played a role in shaping my identity. From the vibrant festivals and traditions to the delicious food and music, I have always felt a deep connection to my roots. This has instilled in me a strong sense of pride in my heritage and a desire to share it with others. Overall, Indian culture and family values have had a profound impact on who I am today, and I am excited to pass on these rich traditions and values to my children to shape their future.

Q: Why is ACEE important to you?

Four elementary students at a table completing a money counting activity with a volunteer in a school cafeteria.

As someone with Indian heritage, I strongly believe in the importance of financial and economic literacy, and the work being done by the Arizona Council on Economic Education (ACEE) resonates with me deeply. The rich cultural values instilled in me by my family and community stress the importance of education, hard work, and responsibility towards oneself and others.

ACEE’s mission to reach and teach every Arizona student to become financially and economically responsible in work and life is vital, especially for low-income students who may not have access to such resources otherwise. I believe that ACEE’s programs and services have the potential to create a positive impact in the lives of countless students and families across Arizona.

By empowering teachers, community volunteers, and parents, ACEE is providing essential tools for students to become productive and responsible members of society, something that aligns perfectly with my own personal beliefs and values. I fully support ACEE’s mission and am proud to be a part of a community that prioritizes financial and economic literacy for all.

Q: Why do you care about financial and economic education?

Two students sitting at a cafeteria table working on a financial literacy activity.

For me, financial and economic education has been a crucial part of my life. As a young adult, I learned about managing money through trial and error, making mistakes, and learning from them. However, it wasn’t until my late twenties that I began to take a more structured approach to financial education and really delved into the topics of budgeting, saving, investing, and managing debt.

Today, I can confidently say that the knowledge and skills I have acquired through my financial education have helped me make smarter decisions and set myself up for a healthy financial future. But it’s not just about my own financial well-being; now that I have kids, I realize the importance of teaching them about money from an early age.

I find it incredibly rewarding to see my children start to understand the concept of money and learn how to be responsible with it. By teaching them about budgeting, saving, and spending in a responsible way, I hope to instill good habits that will last a lifetime. In the end, financial and economic education is essential for everyone, and it’s never too late to start learning and taking control of your financial future.