August 2017 Scholarship Recipients
Daniel Calleja (San Diego, CA) is an Active Duty Army Staff Sergeant with 17 years of service. Daniel started out as a logistics specialist, supporting the motor pools and ordering parts, but in 2013 he had an opportunity to become a contract specialist. As an Acquisitions, Logistics and Technology NCO, Daniel works with the contract department at Naval Base San Diego, procuring and repairing parts for ships. “It’s a good experience,” Daniel says. “I’ve learned a lot, and since I work right by San Diego Bay, we can see those big ships through the window. You feel like you’re making a difference when that ship deploys a few months after you’ve worked on it.” A native of Mexico, Daniel completed a four-year degree program in accounting, but not all of the credits transferred to the United States. He completed a BS in the United States, and then went on to get a master’s degree in accounting. He has had his CPA license since 2013. “Even before I got my CPA, I was interested in the CFP®,” Daniel says. The CPA program that he attended used textbooks from The American College of Financial Services. “That was all the endorsement I needed.” He will complete the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program and plans to eventually sit for the CFP® examination, which will equip him with the skills he will need for a successful second career. “I’ve always been interested in personal finance. The more I talk to people, the more I understand that some people have a good handle on their finances, but most of them do not.”
George A. Cruz
George A. Cruz (Bedford, NH) is a Major in the Army Reserves currently serving his 31st year. “My experience in the Army has been fantastic and too short,” George says. “I started out thinking this was a great way to pay for college, but I learned it’s a great way to live your life.” George enlisted in 1986 and began his journey as a Cannon Fire Direction Specialist at Fort Sill, OK, the home of the Army Field Artillery School. Upon completion of his Active Duty assignment, he enrolled in college and was accepted into the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at Kansas State University. He completed a degree in Business Management and earned his commission as an Army Officer in the U.S. Army Transportation Corps. He then started a career in banking and worked for his firm for 20 years until the company was relocated six years ago. “This was my first opportunity to say, ‘Okay, where do I want to go?’” His interest in securities led him to become a financial advisor, and he joined Edward Jones Investments in Bedford NH. There he learned the importance of caring for the financial needs of clients. “One of the first things they tell you is, ‘You’re going to learn a lot, but you have to remember one thing: take care of the client, and everything else will take care of itself.’” Such a dedication to serving the client first has guided his career. Anticipating a military retirement next year, George is considering his next steps. He will complete the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program as the first in a series of educational goals. He plans to go on to sit for the CFP® examination, earn his series 25 license, and eventually get the Master of Science in Financial Services.
Bryan Dearolf (Kailua, HI) is an Active Duty Navy Lieutenant Commander trained as an H-60 helicopter pilot with over 14 years of service. After completing four consecutive flying tours in Florida, he completed a year of study at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, RI, before joining the Pacific Fleet staff in Pearl Harbor, HI. His interest in financial counseling developed as he regularly counseled junior sailors with financial troubles and talked to fellow junior officers about personal finance. He quickly earned the reputation as the “go-to-guy” for financial matters and earned the designation of Command Financial Specialist. This is Bryan’s second scholarship from The American College of Financial Services. He will build on the skills he developed in the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program by completing the CFP® Certification Education program, with the goal of sitting for the CFP® examination. A graduate of the Naval Academy, the University of Florida, and the Naval War College, Bryan says, “Every day is a new opportunity to invest in your personal growth.”
Michele Godfrey (Montclair, VA) is the spouse of an Active Duty Marine Corps Major with 15 years of service. Military life was a mystery to both Michele and her husband, having both come from civilian families. “I remember when we arrived at our first duty station thinking, ‘Oh boy, this is it!’ We had no idea what military life would be like.” Once they adjusted, however, they flourished. Michele was awarded a FINRA fellowship that allowed her to earn her AFC® credential, and she now works for Zeiders Enterprises, providing financial counseling to units that are either preparing to deploy or returning from deployment. “We provide education, tools, and resources so that these families can make educated decisions,” she says of her role with Zeiders. Looking forward, Michele wants to expand her skills outside of the military. “I’ve had the military experience, and now I want to be well versed for other populations.” Her goal is to complete the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program and sit for the CFP® examination. “The credibility behind these programs will prepare me for the shift,” Michele says. “I like giving people hope. Without hope, none of us can succeed.”
Boriana Helmick (Fayetteville, NC) is the spouse of an Active Duty Master Sergeant who spent four years in the Air Force prior to his 12 years in the Army. Originally from Bulgaria, Boriana met her husband in the United States 13 years ago. “I didn’t know much about the military. One day while we were dating, he told me he had to leave to go somewhere. I thought he meant he was going to school or something, but he was actually being deployed to Iraq.” They had a small wedding prior to his deployment, and Boriana’s life as a military spouse began. “The challenges then were bigger than they are now. Communications were much tougher, but we managed through that.” By the time her husband’s second deployment came about, communications had improved dramatically. Boriana has always had a love of finance and numbers. She earned an accounting degree from the University of National and World Economy in Bulgaria and an MBA from Western Governors University upon her arrival in the U.S. A holder of the AFC® credential, Boriana works for Zeiders Enterprises as a Personal Financial Counselor serving service members within the Special Operation Command at Fort Bragg. “They feel rich when they get their first paycheck and go out and buy a $30,000 car,” she says. One of her most important duties is educating soldiers on the new military retirement system, and explaining the importance of contributing to the plan early, when risk tolerance is much higher. Boriana will complement her AFC® by completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, which will provide her with practical skills that she can take back to her troops. “There’s no rank when it comes to your finances,” she says. “Everyone can do better.”
Ashley Kampfe (Virginia Beach, VA) spent eight years in active duty and three years as a drilling reservist in the U.S. Navy, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Commander before transitioning. Upon graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1998, Ashley was accepted for the Naval Flight Officer track to fly aboard P-3C Orions. “My first choices for a duty station were Hawaii, then Florida and Washington State. I instead received orders to Maine.” During her career, she also had deployments with Patrol Squadron Eight to Puerto Rico, Iceland, Sicily, and Greece. She was in Sicily in 2003 during the war in Iraq. “My crew was one of the first overland surveillance crews, and one of the first overland crews to take fire.” From late 2003 to 2006, she was the Command Financial Specialist at her command in Norfolk, VA, and began noticing some poor financial patterns among those in her unit. “A lot of people were volunteering to deploy unnecessarily to earn enough money to pay their bills or put gas in the car. If they had received better financial training earlier in their careers and made better choices, they wouldn’t have needed to put their lives in harm’s way.” As a 2011 FINRA Foundation MS Fellow, Ashley earned the Accredited Financial Counselor® (AFC®) designation in 2012 after completing education and practicum requirements. “I owe everything to the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education,” she says of AFCPE®. “Rebecca Wiggins, Michelle Starkey of AFCPE®, and Bud Schneeweis of the FINRA Investor Foundation have each made a profound, positive impact on many. They gave me a huge opportunity to transition into a field I feel passionate about.” Ashley now works for Zeiders Enterprises as a Personal Financial Counselor. She wants to pursue additional education and experience as a financial planner and continue to develop her skills. She has set a personal goal to complete the nine-course Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) so that she can hit the ground running. “My favorite part of being in the financial services field is empowering individuals to realize that they are in charge of their money, and that their money is not in charge of them.”
Christine Murphy (Henrico, VA) met her husband after he left the military. The life of a Vietnam-era veteran's spouse was vastly different than what modern military spouses experience. "They weren't celebrated heroes. My husband has three bronze stars with valor, but he wouldn't wear his uniform on the trip home," she says, as he was worried about the public's reaction. "Nowadays we're more open and more forward-thinking about serving our veterans." A victim of Agent Orange exposure and PTSD, Christine's husband has had a long and difficult journey, but she says he is "doing well now; it's not something you outgrow, but he's learned coping mechanisms." Christine has an extensive finance background and holds the CLU®, ChFC®, and AFC® designations. She currently works as a financial counselor and long-term case manager in Fort Lee's Survivor Outreach Services. Together with a grief counselor, Christine provides much-needed guidance to families who are reeling from the loss of a loved one. "When a soldier dies, the family is given a lump sum of money and, for some, a relatively short time to find a new place to live. These people don't know where to begin. We're with them as long as they want to be connected to the military." Much of Christine's role as a financial counselor is to provide education and review options, maximizing as many of their benefits as possible. "When these wives (or parents or siblings) go to the bank to speak to a financial advisor, I go with them. They tell me, 'I don't understand what they're saying,'" she says. "Well, I do. There's a great joy in educating and helping." To cap off her extensive education, Christine wants to complete the requirements to sit for the CFP® Certification Examination, and continue the important work she is doing.
Ralph Nevers (Spokane, WA) graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1976 and was a member of the first co-ed pilot training course. He separated in 1984, but continued to fly for the reserves while deciding what his next career would be, either continuing to fly or joining the financial services profession like others in his family. He decided to stick with flying initially, and got a job with US Airways. “That turned out not to be that great; the airline had two bankruptcies and I lost my pension.” He then decided to give financial services a try, and earned his securities licenses while working for Smith Barney. After that, he went back to US Airways, where he still works today, but is now facing a forced retirement. Once again needing a new career, Ralph wants to help people his age with their retirement. “After the second bankruptcy, US Airways gave us a 401k to replace the pension.” He has been chairman of the Pilots 401k Investment Committee and holds the AIF® designation. Ralph wants to build on the knowledge he gained during his years of experience and will complete the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) designation program. “I’m excited about getting the most up-to-date, leading-edge information on retirement income planning.”
Chris Reid (Sammamish, WA) is an Active Reserve Master Sergeant in the Marine Corps who enlisted right after high school. He spent four years in active duty as an infantryman, and participated in what he calls the “opening shots” following 9/11. Once his four years were up, he joined the reserves and faced several more deployments. After 10 years as a logistician, Chris now works in networking, helping separating veterans find jobs. “You start to consider them your kids. My favorite part is seeing them succeed and get a great job.” When he is not working for the Marine Corps, Chris is an insurance professional who wants to transition to full financial planning. “The biggest wins in this job are seeing the difference you can make in people’s lives,” he says. By completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, Chris will gain the comprehensive skills necessary to make the jump to a more holistic kind of planning.