April 2018 Scholarship Recipients
James David Armstrong
James David Armstrong (Detroit, MI) grew up as an only child in a rough but close-knit neighborhood during the 60’s. After the death of his father, he was raised by his mother, who through the years, was assisted by other family members. At 17, James saw the military as a viable path to a better future and enlisted into the U.S. Air Force where he was trained and served in the military police force. He had planned to make it a career, but instead chose to come home to care for his mother who was experiencing declining health. After her passing, his career took him in several directions over the coming decades, including becoming a Corporate Credit Manager for over 10 years, and serving in that capacity at several different corporations, his last being at Wolverine World Wide, Inc. in Rockford, MI. For the past eight years, James has been working in the financial services profession and currently serves as a Benefit Counselor for Colonial Life in addition to being an independent Certified Medicare Specialist. He now has a 5-10-year plan with a focus on life insurance. He says that he has a “blessed life” with his family, and that his greatest success in life just may be (considering his background) being a successful professional in this industry and leaving a legacy for his children and grandchildren to be proud of. James will be pursuing his Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) designation.
Katie Christy (Ft. Bragg, NC) is the spouse of an active duty Army Major, whom she met while they were attending college in Pennsylvania. She has a degree in finance and says “her dreams of working on Wall Street shifted to Main Street when I fell in love with my military man.” Katie continued to develop her entrepreneurial skills and formed her own business in order to follow her professional passions, even with the constant movement of the military lifestyle and raising two active boys. She is CEO of AYT (Activate Your Talent), a firm focused on fitness, finding and leveraging natural talent, and financial health. She also serves as an “on demand” financial instructor for Zeiders and holds the AFC designation. Her family’s next tour of duty, scheduled for a NATO base in northern Italy, has restrictions on her employment based on the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). She heard about the opportunity at The American College and applied for a scholarship with the plan to study while in Europe. As she puts it, she is “ready to buckle up and enjoy the ride.” Katie will be pursuing the Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) certification education as well as the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation.
Daniel Clarke (Pearl Harbor, HI) is an active duty Navy diver currently stationed at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. He has traveled all over the globe and has enjoyed making a positive, direct impact on humanitarian mission when with Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One, including flight crash recoveries and even the Korean Sewol ferry national disaster, where he supported recovery for hundreds of families. He is a 2008 graduate of University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Finance, and was working with Farm Bureau when he decided to join the Navy after being inspired by a JFK speech he came across, encouraging him to a strive towards a higher calling. He says, “Serving in the Navy has really opened my eyes to see that although we are one small part of a giant cog with lots of people working together for a common purpose, we can accomplish a lot of good.” He looks forward to transitioning in about a year or so. He will be studying for the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation.
Brad Duty (Alexandria, VA) is a retired Colonel and graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. His successful military career includes impressive service in the areas of nuclear ICBMs, Strategic Air Command (SAC), space operations, and a deployment to Afghanistan. “One of the greatest rewards during my time in uniform was hearing from those who served under me say how I helped them reach their goals and realize their potential,” he says. Taking that sense of service and honed leadership skills, he initially pursued a second career with his wife, Michaela, as a life insurance and annuity agent. He soon realized that he could help clients by teaching or explaining how products worked, but never got good at “closing a sale,” so he transitioned to his current role counseling military members and their families on their finances with Zeiders. He meets a lot of service members and veterans who are worried about the “Big R” (successful retirement after their second career). With that focus, he will be pursuing the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) designation.
Jared Eley (Port Hueneme, CA) is an active duty Navy third class petty officer, working as a utilitiesman. After a successful high school experience, which included developing his business skills in the DECA program, he was not sure what he wanted to do next, but he knew that he was not ready for the distractions of the college life just yet. He decided to enlist, learn a trade, and wait until the timing was right. He now has a three-year plan for his college courses. Jared recently met an agent in the Philadelphia region who works with Penn Mutual and became interested in a possible career in the industry. He eventually found the scholarship opportunity at The American College. He will soon transfer to his next duty station, Camp David, where he was hand selected to work at the Presidential retreat. While there, he intends to take the coursework to complete his Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation and transition after his enlistment.
Sam Lewis (Wilmington, DE) is a Master Sergeant in the Delaware Air National Guard with 19 years of service. “You learn from every experience in life” he says, “and for me that started as a teenager working 70 hours a week during my summers on the farm.” He actually represents the third generation of service for his family, joining at the age of 17, and is the first in his family to earn a college degree, graduating summa cum laude from Wilmington University. He has deployed to Iraq, serving at the busy Balad Airbase performing cargo inspections, where he enjoyed the structure of the team and the mission of the deployment. In his younger days, he admits to living paycheck to paycheck, but says “after getting married, it was a financial eye-opener and I had to learn to develop longer term financial goals.” Eventually he noticed his junior personnel needing professional financial guidance, so he brought in some counselors to help them. Through this process, he realized that not only was he drawn to the concepts, but that this might be a possible career path where he could continue to serve others. He will be pursuing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation as he looks to transition in the next year or so to begin the next chapter on his journey.
Ora Millard (Ft. Worth, TX) served a full 21 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Chief Petty Officer. During his first tour aboard aircraft carrier USS MIDWAY, the ship found itself caught in a typhoon and experienced a 27-degree roll before the ship was able to successfully maneuver to find calm waters in the “eye of the storm.” He served aboard aircraft carriers and large amphibious ships in the Western Pacific working with the firefighters on the flight deck and aircraft salvage crew. His financial planning at that time was unique. “I remember pulling into port after being at sea for nine months and having 18 uncashed paychecks stashed in my locker,” he says. “With that kind erratic of cash flow, it is not always easy to make sound financial decisions.” He finished his career in Texas where he trained other sailors, which made for a smooth transition to a civilian career. For the last several years, he has been a financial counselor for military at the same base and has even earned a Master’s in Personal Financial Planning. He is pursuing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation to fulfill a requirement for his next promotion.
Brodie Pearson (Salt Lake City, UT) was in high school when the events of 9/11 unfolded, making a distinct impression on him and planting the seed for future service. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2005-2009, deploying twice to Iraq with an expertise in logistics and maintenance. “I met some of the greatest people in the Fleet Marine Force” he says, “many of whom have become lifelong friends.” On his transition back to civilian life, his father-in-law convinced him to look into his profession of 45 years – a career with New York Life. His focus has been on serving “mom and pop” clients by sitting across from them at their kitchen table. “I set out to make an impact in the financial services profession,” he says. “What we do is really meaningful.” He noticed that everyone in his office had a Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) designation and were alumni of The American College, and he decided it was time to advance his knowledge base by pursing the CLU® designation himself.
Danny Rowe (Los Angeles, CA) joined the U.S. Marine Corps when he was 20 years old, retiring after a full career as a Gunnery Sergeant. He served in the area of aircraft firefighting and as a rescue specialist. “I had no idea how great the experience would be when I joined; it really transitioned me from a boy into a man with lots of mentors,” he says, “and through my service, I learned not only about life, but learned how to be a better person.” He transitioned in 2001 and began a second career as a life insurance agent, working with several organizations on pure commission. His next chapter found him serving veterans again within the Veterans Administration Organization, where he served for over nine years. He was recently drawn back to the financial services profession and is anxious to improve his education as he looks to re-enter the industry. He will be pursuing the Financial Services Certified Professional® (FSCP®) designation.