Connex awards $3,000 to winner of sixth annual ConneXfactor financial fitness competition

Nearly $5,000 in total prizes distributed at special recognition ceremony Oct. 16

NORTH HAVEN, CT (November 13, 2019)Connex Credit Union recently presented Nikia Bigard of New Haven with a $3,000 check for winning its sixth annual ConneXfactor financial fitness competition. Offered as part of its ConnexCares philanthropic program, ConneXfactor challenged four individuals to dedicate six months competing to see who can improve their financial situation the most.

“ConneXfactor is a remarkable extension of our commitment to customer advocacy and helping every member uncover new opportunities to take control of their finances,” said Frank Mancini, president and chief executive officer, Connex Credit Union. “This competition allows us to showcase how Connex Financial Advocates can help anyone committed to improving their financial situation overcome the unique obstacles blocking their path toward a healthy financial future.”

After receiving more than 100 applications, Connex selected four contestants and paired them with a Connex Financial Advocate who acted as a coach, providing them with tips and guidance throughout the contest. A panel of judges then reviewed each contestant’s total progress from April through September to determine the following winners:

$3,000 Grand Prize Winner Nikia Bigard

A single mother of two children, Nikia joined ConneXfactor saddled by massive credit card debt and struggling to make ends meet. She often found herself struggling to budget and could rarely identify opportunities to save.

Working with Connex Financial Advocate and Coach Frank Pomarico, Nikia has significantly reduced her credit card debt and formed new financial habits—most notably, reducing her depedendance on credit cards and resisting the urge make extraneous purchases for her children.

 “Thanks to ConneXfactor, I’m significantly more optimistic about my financial future and feel that I’m regularly taking the right steps toward being structured and disciplined when it comes to saving money,” added Bigard.

Even though the contest has concluded, Bigard is continuing to work with Pomarico to see if her mortgage can be refinanced in an effort to save even more money.

$1,000 First Place Winner Justine Jarvie

Burdened with massive credit card debt and student loans, Justine Jarvie of West Haven was forced to move back home while working full-time and attending graduate school. She joined the ConneXfactor program seeking ways to avoid taking out additional loans for school or car repairs, while also paying down credit card debt, creating an emergency fund and improving her credit score.

With the support of ConneXfactor Coach Gezim Stroka, Jarvie was finally able to once again move into her own apartment. This major change did require her to use a portion of her emergency savings account. However, Jarvie was able to immediately get back on track by reducing unnecessary spending. She cooks most of her own meals and has found more cost-effective forms of entertainment that can be done in the comfort of her own home.

While her journey was filled with many challenges, Jarvie ended the competition on a high note. She’s been pleasantly surprised at how much she can enjoy herself without needing to go out and has been consistently saving money to ensure she remains on the path toward a bright financial future.

$500 Second Place Winner Sheila Gatison

A single mother of three from Hamden, Sheila Gatison joined ConneXfactor looking for help paying down credit card debt, establishing an emergency savings and saving for her youngest child’s college education.

Over the last six months, Gatison has learned how to effectively divide her spending habits between “needs” and “wants” and has been labeled by ConneXfactor Coach Tameeka Lockwood as a “Super Saver.” One of the most significant changes Gatison employed was scheduling automatic deposits into her savings account, treating it like a bill that must be budgeted and paid for each month.

Throughout the competition, Gatison acquired countless healthy financial habits that enabled her to dispel her previous notion that exorbitant amounts of money were needed to build a savings. She leaves the contest undoubtedly more confident about her financial future and is eager to pass on her new financial literacy to her adult sons.

“The ultimate goal of ConneXfactor is to help each participant rethink how they approach their financial situation and it’s been incredible to watch the real, tangible results they’ve produced by implementing crucial changes and embracing new habits,” said Carl Casper, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Connex Credit Union.

Due to the popularity of the program, Connex will host a seventh season of ConneXfactor in 2020. However, those interested in taking better control of their financial lives do not need to wait until then to begin their new journey. Visit any of Connex’s eight branches to meet with a Financial Advocate and get started on a path toward a healthy financial future today. Additional information and branch locations can be found at

Connex Credit Union President and Chief Executive Officer Frank Mancini (left) presents a $3,000 check to Nikia Bigard (right), the Grand Prize Winner of the 2019 ConneXfactor financial fitness competition.

Nikia Bigard.

Justine Jarvie.

Sheila Gatison.

About Connex Credit Union

One of Connecticut’s largest credit unions, Connex Credit Union is a full-service credit union serving more than 64,000 members at eight branches. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in New Haven, Hartford, Middlesex or Fairfield counties. For more information, please call 1-800-CR-UNION or visit,

About ConnexCares

ConnexCares is Connex Credit Union’s charitable and philanthropic program. The mission through ConnexCares is to promote financial literacy, well-being and understanding to our members and the greater communities Connex serves.


Alecia Treichel
203.980.9556 (cell)

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