Episode 4: Overcoming Unexpected Financial Challenges

Our five-part series explores COVID-19 and its potential impact on stroke survivors and their caregivers and families. Hear stroke patients’ questions and concerns and our stroke experts’ responses.

Episode 4: Overcoming Unexpected Financial Challenges

Moderated by Emmy Award-winning news anchor and journalist Carey Peña, this episode features stroke survivor Aqualyn Kennedy and CNBC senior personal finance correspondent Sharon Epperson.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a shock to the finances of families across the U.S. A stroke can likewise do sudden and deep financial damage. Kennedy, who had a stroke at age 18 as a college freshman at Spelman College, shares her perspective as a survivor who has confronted financial challenges caused by her stroke and two subsequent heart attacks.

Sharon Epperson, CNBC senior personal finance correspondent and a hemorrhagic stroke survivor, provides advice on preparing your personal finances for the unexpected.She is also a lead contributor to Invest In You: Ready. Set. Grow, CNBC’s financial wellness initiative in partnership with Acorns. Her expertise includes saving and investing for retirement, paying for college, managing mortgages, student loans, credit card and other debt, and building a financial legacy through estate planning.

Download audiocast transcript (PDF)

Podcast Participants (in order of appearance)

Aqualyn Kennedy (Stroke survivor)

Aqualyn has over 20 years of leadership experience in brand management, sales and account management for top consumer packaged goods, technology, financial and entertainment companies, including Procter & Gamble on the Olay and Covergirl brands.
She had a stroke at age 18, while a freshman at Spelman College in Atlanta. She subsequently had two heart attacks.
She has used the sum of these experiences to motivate her to launch a financial planning service through New York Life to help others plan for and live their best lives. She’s also a passionate volunteer advocate for the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association — working to ensure that stroke survivors and others with pre-existing conditions have the financial security that insurance provides. She also serves on health- and children-focused non-profit boards.

Carey Peña (Moderator)

Carey Peña is an Emmy Award-winning news anchor, host and investigative journalist. As founder and CEO of Inspired Media 360, she created her dream company at the intersection of tech and TV. Peña strives to inspire people through the stories IM360 covers, the shows and content her company creates, and the many charity events and other activities where she serves as master of ceremonies or volunteers her time.

Sharon Epperson (CNBC senior personal finance correspondent)

As CNBC’s senior personal finance correspondent, Sharon Epperson covers the many facets of how people manage, grow and protect their money. She’s an award-winning journalist and writer for CNBC television, and a contributor on NBC’s TODAY and NBC Nightly News, and other media platforms. Her expertise includes saving and investing for retirement, paying for college, managing mortgages, student loans, credit card and other debt, and building a financial legacy through estate planning.

Preparing your finances for the unexpected is a critical — and personal — aspect of her reporting. In September 2016, Epperson nearly lost her life when she had a stroke caused by a ruptured brain aneurysm. She has become a staunch advocate for health and wellness, raising awareness about brain aneurysms and funding for research. 

Epperson received her bachelor’s degree in sociology and government from Harvard University, a master’s in international affairs from Columbia University and an honorary doctorate from Carlow University in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh native lives with her husband and two children in Westchester County, New York.