December 2017 Scholarship Recipients

December 18, 2017
Vanessa Alanis

Vanessa Alanis (Oceanside, CA) is the spouse of an Active Duty Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel. Together they recently completed their eighth move in 16 years. Before their most recent move to Camp Pendleton, CA, Vanessa was a Personal Financial Counselor at Camp Lejeune, NC, and was building a solid reputation for her department among the personnel. “It was awesome. Units would invite us to set up shop in their offices because they realized the value of bringing their Marines to see us,” she says. Vanessa has already earned the Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC®) designation, and now she plans to earn the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation and sit for the CFP® exam. The comprehensive curriculum in this program will expand her skillset and increase her value to the community she serves. “My motivation is to try to be better than the day before. I’m a big believer in little successes over time, and I am trying to improve every day.” Vanessa is on the right track to continue improving lives – her own, and those of her clients – through education.

Earl Carter

Earl Carter (Rockvale, TN) spent eight years in the Army and the National Guard and says that the experience shaped his life in ways he could not have imagined. “The core Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage have stayed with me. My service gave me a work ethic I never knew I had.” Earl signed up for the Army in 2002 after graduating from high school. He started out in field artillery and was eventually reclassified to military police. He spent a year in charge of a holding facility in Kosovo where he was responsible for training the other personnel. Upon his return, Earl attended Middle Tennessee State University and received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He currently works for the Veterans Administration as a medical biller. “I love my job,” Earl says. “But I want to do something that has a greater purpose.” His goal is to complete the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program and eventually work with veterans and military families. He credits the Army for giving him the personal courage to make this career shift. “I’m stepping into the unknown with this coursework,” he says. “I really want to change the future for my family, and help other veterans and their families. That’s the endgame.”

Jedmund Greene

Jedmund Greene (Savannah, GA) is an Active Duty Army Major with 15 years of service, which he describes as “a lot of fun, a lot of challenges, and a lot of different places. It’s been a good experience!” A career transportation logistician, Jed has been deployed three times in support of the efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. After his first deployment, Jed took a break from military life and taught high school history for a few years. “At the end of the day, I really missed being around soldiers,” he said. “The Army was looking for people and I haven’t looked back since.” He was later stationed in Germany and Italy, and in 2013 started working in higher-level logistics, “making sure warfighters have their beans, bullets, and everything else they need.” Originally from the Boston area, Jed was one of eight children. His mother was a math teacher, but he didn’t develop a true passion for finances until he joined the Army and started contributing to his 401k. As he says, “When you start seeing your portfolio grow, you start getting interested in other financial vehicles.” When thinking about his post-military career, financial services appeals to his sense of service. “When you talk to friends about finance and you get that ‘deer in the headlights’ look, you realize there’s a real opportunity to make a difference in peoples’ lives. I would like to give back.” Jed is going to complete the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, which will give him a strong foundation in financial planning for wherever his next career takes him.

Jose Ledesma

Jose Ledesma (Seattle, WA) is an Active Duty Marine Corps Master Sergeant with a 19-year career of helping others. His first role in the Marine Corps was in an administrative capacity, and Jose quickly realized that he really enjoyed helping people solve their problems. In his current role as part of the University of Washington ROTC program, he is helping in a different way, serving as a mentor for his students as well as working as a drill instructor. The son of immigrants, Jose felt drawn to the military as a way to better himself. He says, “As a Marine, I have learned how to develop, mentor, instruct, and lead other Marines. I had to become extremely proficient in a variety of subjects to allow me to lead effectively. My work ethic coupled with my desire to continue learning has brought me success both as a leader and as a human being.” Scheduled to retire next year, he is thinking about his post-military career, and the financial services profession is calling him. Following successful completion of the Financial Services Certified Professional® (FSCP®) program, Jose wants to complete the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program and continue expanding his knowledge.

Haotian Lee

Haotian Lee (Durham, NC) is the spouse of veteran Navy Lieutenant Commander and recent scholarship recipient, Colin Lee. When Haotian and Colin met, he was in the reserves and both were enrolled in the same master’s program at Rutgers University. “We’ve been married almost 4 years; I don’t have a broad experience as a military spouse, but when he would return from reserve duties and tell me about it, it made me feel like I was part of the military family too.” Haotian grew up in Beijing, China, and came to the U.S. to attend graduate school. “Personally, it’s been challenging. I had never been away from home before. My college was in the same city where I grew up, and I could go home every weekend. Everything here is new and different.” Despite the challenges, Haotian’s interest in math has followed her to the United States. As she says, “In high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but I always knew I was good at math. So I thought, let’s study this in college and see if it works out.” She went on to earn a master’s degree in Quantitative Finance from Rutgers University. She was first exposed to financial services when her husband started working at Merrill Lynch and it appealed to her as an opportunity to use her education. “When I started learning more about what Colin is doing, I liked the idea of helping people and staying in the financial field.” Haotian is excited about beginning the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, which will provide a practical application for her previous education. Helping people with their finances makes her excited about the future. “I love meeting people; getting to know people exposes me to things I haven’t experienced myself.”

Alex Munoz

Alex Munoz (Brooklyn, NY) spent over four years in Army, after enlisting in 2006 as an infantryman. “I’ve always been a big advocate for humanitarian and peacekeeping missions, and that typically requires boots on the ground; I wanted to have that experience,” Alex says. He was deployed to Iraq for 14 months and also spent 12 months in Afghanistan. As a radio operator, it was Alex’s responsibility to shadow his commanding officer on patrols with a radio to help keep the unit in communication. He later led his Company Intelligence Support Team, including outreach to neighboring Afghan communities. “We were going into villages and identifying the needs of the local population while also doing classic intelligence work. That experience made me realize there is power in engaging at the grassroots level.” Alex did his graduate school work in global affairs at NYU, studying peacebuilding, and was able to return to Iraq during his graduate program to supervise three grant-funded projects focused on international development, peacebuilding, youth engagement and conflict transformation. This included the training of almost 4,000 local youth in introductory peacebuilding skills so they could serve as peace ambassadors for their local communities, as well as establishing training opportunities for groups at the University of Duhok. His work in Iraq inspired him to establish Youth Speak, a nonprofit whose goal is to continue the youth engagement work he began. He has also been asked to help advise the Appalachian Scholar Project, a veteran-funded initiative to help West Virginia high school students expand their college horizons. A graduate of NYU and Columbia, Alex is going to expand on his education by completing the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® (CAP®) program, which will allow him to act as a bridge between donors and projects desperately in need of funding, including other Veterans organizations. “I have a lot of great skills for this kind of work – good face-to-face, good grant-writing skills, and I like doing the hands-on work, but I see the importance of the donor relations side.” Alex’s accomplishments and his desire to help are already impressive, and earning the CAP® designation will further enhance those skills.

Danelle Strang

Danelle Strang (Jacksonville, NC) is the spouse of an Active Duty Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant based outside of Cherry Point, NC. Danelle’s original career plan was to become a French teacher after falling in love with the French language as a teenager. Although her career went in a different direction than originally planned, Danelle is still able to provide guidance and instruction as a Personal and Professional Development Advisor helping active duty service members develop their financial goals. “I just love helping Marines find their second careers,” Danelle says. By taking the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program and ultimately sitting for the CFP® exam, Danelle will gain skills she can use immediately to help her clients flourish in their post-military lives. “My dream job now is to continue working within the military community to give back to those who serve by providing support and expertise in an area that causes them a great deal of stress— money,” she says. Earning the ChFC® designation will help Danelle reach her career goals and continue to change people’s lives.

Jason Tuschen

Jason Tuschen (San Diego, CA) is an Active Duty Command Master Chief and Navy SEAL who will be retiring next month after 27 years of remarkable service. Enlisting at 20 because he wasn’t feeling challenged with school, Jason was interested in the SEAL program because he heard the training was the “hardest” in the military. “Perfect,” he thought. “I always loved pushing myself to see where my limits were and seeing if I could push past it.” Jason is working with The Honor Foundation, a transition-readiness program that prepares Navy SEALs and other Special Forces for a post-military career. “I could have stayed in longer – and there were cool opportunities that would have been incredibly rewarding—but I felt a little too comfortable with the parking spot I had, with the job I had, and I felt like I needed to be uncomfortable again. It’s time to start something new.” As part of his transition, Jason will be completing the Master of Science in Management (MSM) program, which will build on the years of hands-on leadership skills that his SEAL career has nurtured. “Leadership is the most important trait in any organization,” Jason says. “Whether it’s military, police, a school district, there are no bad teams, just bad leaders. I’ve had 20+ years of hands-on experience and now I want to put the academic piece alongside the practical.”