Young, Educated & Broke: An Introduction to America's New Poor

Young, Educated & Broke: An Introduction to America's New Poor

by Jamie Borromeo


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Young, Educated & Broke is a unique blend of memoir and social commentary that highlights the author’s Millennial experience in America as a microcosm of the geopolitical and domestic affairs in American history during the 2008 economic collapse and the years that followed.
Borromeo drafts a “Millennial Blueprint” for what she believes can spark a conversation between young people and current leadership to address the youth high unemployment rates and leadership issues in this country.
In such uncertain times, Borromeo’s analysis leaves you inspired and hopeful as she writes a plan–and provides tangible proof–that her generation will be a formidable force in the next chapter of America’s history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781630470913
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Publication date: 01/06/2015
Pages: 190
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 2.50(d)

About the Author

Jamie Borromeo is a Millennial commentator with a uniquely illuminating perspective on Gen Y and its interaction with the business, political, and social spheres. She currently is the President of THE E&J COMMISSION LLC, a marketing and contract strategies firm based in Washington, D.C. She is also co-founder and CEO of GenerationDrive Entrepreneurs Network– a national non-profit that mentors young adult start-up firms. Ms. Borromeo has co-chaired the Clinton Foundation Millennium events in both New York City and Hollywood with President Clinton and Honorary Chair Chelsea Clinton to engage the next generation of leaders and philanthropists on global issues. She formerly served on the Small Business Advisory Group for the U.S. Department of Energy and was a founding member of the Democratic National Committee’s Small Business Council. Borromeo was named one of “America’s Top Women Mentoring Leaders” in the 2011 issue of WOW Magazine. She has been featured on CNN’s Reliable Sources, NBC, CBS Radio, and AsianWeek.
Borromeo graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from the University of California Santa Cruz, and is a graduate of the UCLA Anderson School of Management, Management Development for Entrepreneurs Program.

Read an Excerpt


Silicon Valley, 2007: We are the 99%

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

Winston Churchill

My palms were sweaty.

I was rehearsing my lines in my head as the dean of the college was speaking to our graduating class. I was a college senior from the University of California, Santa Cruz. I found myself chosen as the student speaker for the graduation ceremony, and for the first time in my life, I was nervous to speak at the podium.

At a young age, I was groomed to speak publicly. My mom and dad hosted corporate events and political fundraisers around the country regularly, so they had no problem handing me the microphone when I was twelve years old. The podium was like an old friend. I could do everything from telling audience members who were corporate CEOs and high-profile community leaders to "please enjoy the dessert" to telling jokes while the audio/ visual teams fixed technical difficulties.

An unlikely candidate in the past to speak on behalf of such a liberal, hippie college, I was both thrilled and anxious to represent the Class of 2007. I had grown up a conservative Catholic, but after attending UC Santa Cruz, I had opened my mind to a different way of looking at the world. After four years of exposure to the principles of the university, I embodied what UC Santa Cruz had taught me: to embrace the environment, appreciate diversity, and to have an open, free exchange of ideas within my community and to be of service to society.

I honestly wouldn't have even applied among hundreds of candidates for student speaker at the commencement ceremony if it weren't for one of my former journalism professors. A year before graduation, I had participated in the University of California DC (District of Columbia) program and took a journalism class. My professor was Dr. Susan Rasky, who was nothing short of an inspiration. After taking her class, she wanted me to apply for the journalism program at University of California, Berkeley, where she taught. She said, "You are one of the best writers I've ever had." I was so honored to get such kudos from a seasoned journalist. After kindly rejecting the notion that I could one day be a professional writer, I at least took her up on the idea that I could speak on behalf of my graduating class.

So, back on stage for the graduation speech, it was quite shocking that I was the least bit nervous. There were about a thousand people looking out at me, so surely this was my biggest audience yet. But I don't think it was the amount of people that frightened me; it was the content of my speech, which felt like a prophetic revelation, which scared me.

In preparation for the speech, the graduation committee had asked me to add a more hopeful tone to it so I could energize and inspire the crowd. My speech was energizing and inspiring — but I also wanted it to be honest. I could not speak of hope without highlighting the candid troubles of my generation — troubles that had yet to materialize when I spoke the words.

The majority of my peers were still unaware that, in a few months, the whole U.S. economy would be brought to its knees, crushing the spirits and economic opportunities of my graduating class. But I knew better. I read too many articles, watched the news too much, and interacted far too often with corporate and government leaders to think anything else. We were the first class to graduate into what was to become the Great Recession, and my speech was an omen of the events that were soon to come.

I don't blame my generation for not knowing. I think the only reason I was aware was because I started to notice a funny thing that happened during my last year of college. Every time I turned on the news, I would see connections between the state of the country and my personal experiences (and they were not positive). A report on mounting national debt would be on the local news station. Then, minutes later, a debt collector would call me about a late credit card payment. I'd turn on the TV the next day and listen to the news on the war in Iraq, and that same day when the mail carrier would drop off my mail, I would read a letter from an old high school friend who wrote pages and pages from the desert, talking about how much he missed the simple comforts of home — like sleeping in a bed. Politicians on Capitol Hill would argue about a proposal in Congress to keep Americans on health plans despite pre-existing conditions, while my mother would call frantically that same day to tell me she was denied by health insurance companies for her own pre-existing conditions. I would hear a news network feature a panel of experts regarding this new phenomenon of staggering student loan debt, while simultaneously, I was scared I wouldn't graduate because I couldn't pay my college tuition.

Were my experiences a mirror of the larger issues we were facing as a nation? Was my experience a microcosm of the societal issues that were plaguing the country? From that moment on, I realized I might have become a poster-child for challenging topics discussed in the national discourse.

The Land of Technology: Silicon Valley

Weeks after the crowds cleared the bleachers and the stage was empty, I went on as an official graduate and moved to Silicon Valley. I liked Silicon Valley for two very distinct reasons. One, Silicon Valley liked young people. It appreciated the knowledge we had to offer, and everything in its culture embraced younger generations. Two, I liked that innovation was the name of the game in town. To innovate, to use technology, and to promote entrepreneurship were key characteristics of the culture that made me a proud resident of the area.

I worked for the City of San Jose, known as the "Capital of Silicon Valley" for a time, then I interned for a Congressional member who represented Silicon Valley, and shortly thereafter I ran a national nonprofit headquartered in Mountain View — home to many technology companies like Google, Mozilla, Symantec and Intuit. In only two years, I had produced a half-million dollar budget for the organization and was working with corporations like Apple, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, and other respected Fortune 500 companies. This platform allowed me to work closely with community organizers, corporations, and political campaigns.

What I noticed the most about Silicon Valley was the obvious love for technology. And young people were leading the charge with it.

As a generation for whom iPads, Smartphones and computers had become everyday household items, our techno-literacy awed the older generations. The ability for online messages to spread like wildfire gave rise to a new crop of celebrities, personalities, talking heads, and experts. A good example of how this technological shift altered our culture is pop-sensation Justin Bieber, and his rise to fame, which came from the millions of hits he received on his YouTube channel and videos.

From the passionate community organizer to the candidate for public office, messages, speeches and virtual meet-ups could now be formed through Facebook — the world's most popular social media site, invented by Millennial Mark Zuckerberg. The ability to send a Tweet or photo using Instagram, SnapChat, or other social media sites to other countries around the world makes the Millennial Generation the first truly global generation in history. You can instant message your friends, fellow community organizers, or send out information to the whole world with the click of a mouse.

This was also the era that led to the rise of President Obama. Barack Obama's seat in the oval office was historic for more reasons than one. He was not only the first Black president our country elected into office — he was also the first presidential candidate to utilize a sophisticated social media strategy in a political campaign, which he did in 2008. Many experts believe this approach and execution was the key to his victory. In an article titled, "iPresident: How Social Media Shaped the Narrative of Barack Obama," the author says, "Obama's embrace of social media — utilizing social networks as a means of encouraging civic engagement — has allowed him to create a conversation, and often an open dialogue, with the public. He has created an environment of transparency never before experienced in American politics, a sort of new political ecology for the digital age."

Beyond grassroots organizing, relationships have been formed through social media in a way they previously had not been. One of my girlfriends met her husband on e-Harmony, a dating website. Old friends have reconnected, and loved ones are updated on the happenings of each other's lives through status updates on Facebook.

Commerce and international trade have dramatically improved as well. The World Wide Web connects countries and citizens byte by byte. If you have a product or service that has to be sent overseas, the exchange and transaction is much easier. Banking has become more efficient. ATM machines and electronic transfers take anywhere from a few seconds to a few days. Filing data, record keeping, research and information gathering have all improved because of technology.

Efficiencies have been created in academia that earlier generations could not have dreamed of. When I was invited to return to my old elementary school by my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Brosky, to do a presentation to teach students the importance of writing, I was in awe of the technology that these young people had access to. Notebooks are now replaced with iPads. Old projectors are now replaced by high-tech MacBooks. Chalkboards are now replaced with LCD screens. The education environment is more interactive with the use of multimedia and electronic games, and teachers can now engage students with technology that makes learning fun.

As a generation that has had access to computer technology since birth, Millennials have grown up with a powerful technical resource available in a way that no previous generation has had. Global conversations, an exchange of information, and a new virtual ecology has created a new world for Millennials.

The Great Recession

But, with every great creation, comes a downside. The financial sector used technology to squeeze more and more money out of the economy until, what we now know as The Great Recession hit. Technology, like the Internet, computers, and bank transfers collectively gave way to Wall Street creating complicated financial instruments that turned simple things like mortgages into sophisticated investments to be speculated on. The banking industry structured each of these mortgages into complex financial products like crafty engineers. Spiffy names like Structured Investment Vehicles (SIVs), Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs), Credit Default Swaps, Asset Backed Securities and Collateralized Mortgage Obligations (CMOs) created an alphabet soup that average Americans couldn't even take a sip of. The fact that it was so complicated contributed to people making such bad decisions on these investments. On top of that, let's not forget how globalization assisted in these efforts. Your mortgage was now a product that could be sold by financial institutions as an investment to virtually anyone in the world. They turned it into a security — something that can be bought like a Treasury Bill or Certificate of Deposit (CD).

As Wall Street categorized mortgages into "risk profiles" and "tranches," and gambled which American home would give the best bang for the buck (or what investors like to call "return on investment") the loans that everyday Americans used to purchase their house had now become just another item to play Russian Roulette with on Wall Street.

Let me explain in layman's terms what was happening with mortgages for the uninitiated. People qualified for different interest rates on their mortgages. There were people that qualify at levels from prime (market rate) down to subprime (worse than market rate). Wall Street turned these mortgages into something you could invest in, based on the grade of the mortgages. The riskier ones, which are subprime, gave the investor much bigger returns, and because speculative financial institutions love big returns, they were often willing to take the increased risks.

Then, they essentially sold shares of the security — which was composed of thousands of mortgages — as if it was shares of a stock, like it was a business. They ended up putting huge amounts of money into subprime mortgages, due to the comparatively higher return you could make on subprime mortgage-backed securities. So much so, that the banks had to get more Americans to take out mortgages so they could keep making money. The problem with that is not everyone made enough money to cover his or her mortgage payments. There's a reason they got subprime mortgages in the first place, after all. Many of these people started to default on their loans and began a chain reaction that eventually cascaded into the toppling of the U.S. economy.

A perfect storm of obsession with short-term profits by the financial industry and the cultural obsession of consumers wanting to own a home, a car, gadgets and technology made the economy collapse like a house of cards. I, myself, was certainly not immune to the dealings on Wall Street. Within six months of receiving my diploma, the Great Recession hit. My family had lost our wealth during the financial crisis, and my mom was diagnosed with lupus, which made it hard for her to work through all the turmoil.

My condo on River Street, in Santa Cruz, that my mother intended to be an investment property for me upon graduation, was auctioned on the courthouse steps after defaulting. I cried for a few days, then immediately had to find a place to stay. In the interim, I stayed with a friend and his family in Santa Clara, California.

The owner of the home was my friend's father, Ed. He was a Baby Boomer, a jolly man at over 300 pounds. Divorced with two adult children, he lived between his retreat home in the mountains and the house he commuted to in Silicon Valley to visit his sons. His diverse experiences made him an interesting man. He was sarcastic, witty, and funny as hell. I'd jokingly tell him that if he grew his beard any longer he'd start to look like Santa Claus. He was a small business owner who lived out what his generation knew as the American Dream. His mother and father emigrated from Croatia to provide a better life for Ed and his younger sister. They did, indeed, achieve that. The home where they lived, in which I was renting a room at the time, felt like a perfect 1960's home. It felt like your typical white-picket fence house with a perfectly manicured yard. As a small business owner, Ed's company provided car salespeople with customer satisfaction consulting. Uncle Ed would use behavioral sciences to analyze data on customer service. He had his own high-tech version of a call center based right out of his living room. He was a typical Silicon Valley entrepreneur — a man who created and innovated right out of his home and was able to retire with his financial needs met for his later years.

Ed had the uncanny ability to walk the line between interacting with the everyday Joe, which was his blue-collar client base and then, in his personal life, flip the script and analyze the world around him like an academic, providing sound esoteric musings like someone from a religious order while encouraging the "you-can-do-it spirit" like a basketball coach. All through my post-college blues, as I picked up the pieces of my life during the recession, Uncle Ed's dynamic spirit provided a bright light in my life.

On one not-so-special evening, we sat on the porch while he smoked a cigarette. His husky stature would make the bench creak multiple times. The rhythm between his puffs of smoke, creaking bench, and crickets outside brought a harmonious experience I craved at such an unsteady time in my life. In an unexpected moment amidst the everyday mundane, he said, "I should really quit this shit," as he'd put out his smoke. Then, I'd hear some prophetic words emerge from such a simple man. After moments of basking in the stillness and sounds of nature, amidst all this economic turmoil that America was going through, I couldn't help but ask him, "Ed, what do you think will happen to my generation? What is the fate of the next generation of professionals?"

I remember his words vividly.

Jamie, I am not sure my thinking regarding the next generation of professionals is relevant. What might be more important is how they see themselves in a society whereby market forces driven by corporate greed dominate public policy, and what do they intend to do about it? Will the can of economic reckoning be kicked down the road? Will young professionals accept the demand that they do more work and settle for less reward? The private sector of profit and greed will drain young professionals so that at the end of the workday they will collapse — exhausted — into their little residential side-by-side cubicles trying to catch their breath. Can they overcome the apathy of a comfortable couch coupled with a refrigerator of food like substances; an internet entertainment culture supplemented by mind numbing effects of alcohol or drugs? Will they organize to meet the future challenges of the environment, the economy, the nature of weapons of war, as the earth's dwindling supply of oil, gas and water increasingly become the subject of global conflict?


Excerpted from "Young, Educated & Broke"
by .
Copyright © 2015 Jamie Borromeo.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Preface xiii

Introduction: Starting the Real Conversation xvi

Chapter 1 Silicon Valley, 2007: We are the 99% 1

Chapter 2 Asia, 2008: From Medication to Meditation 34

Chapter 3 Europe, 2009: Global Millennials 62

Chapter 4 Washington, D.C., 2010: The Crisis of Student Loan Debt and Education in America 84

Chapter 5 New York, 2011: Hope from a New Generation of Business Leaders 106

Chapter 6 Los Angeles, 2012: From Main Street to Wall Street 118

Chapter 7 Hawai'i 2013: The Experiment 132

Afterword 145

About the Author 158

Citations 159

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Young, Educated & Broke: An Introduction to America's New Poor 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the book. It's a great memoir of the world we live in today, during and post, the 2008 recession. Borromeo eloquently describes the financial troubles  that our Millennials are suffering through in a way that all people (of all generations) will come to understand. Young, Educated, and Broke  is a great read and inspires the young entrepreneur at heart .
Lawrence-L More than 1 year ago
"Young, Educated,  & Broke" couldn't have been better timed in its arrival; this one of America's most dynamic, diverse, and dream-achieving generations, and also the one of the most disadvantaged.   This book clearly and eloquently illustrates and communicates the real struggles of the everyday Millennial American, and how these struggles are not so much specific to race, gender, or any other protected-class, but rather our Generation as a whole.  In a time of immense corporate oppression, widespread unemployment and/or underemployment, and mounting educational debt on our generation, this book blows the whistle on what's has room for improvement  in America's very own culture of monetary-ism.  I feel empowered and determined more than ever to turn things around for the better in our generation and our country as a whole.  Jamie Borromeo is a  a distinguished individual whose merit is clearly demonstrated in how well it this book is written and how enjoyable it is to read.  This book gets the gold star to the fifth power.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great read for America's new poor!  I myself have met to many millinnelias these days and for the past few years That are living at home, with educations, no jobs and have so much college debt!  Thank you Jaime for your courage, honesty, and hard work to start this conversation it is time.  Parents need to read for sure.
ZelFP More than 1 year ago
The book was a wake up call to me and it can be a wake up call to my fellow millennials. Jamie's memoir is inspirational to all millennials to live with a purpose and become an entrepreneur in their own field. #YEBitUP!