February 2017 Scholarship Recipients

February 16, 2017
Chetara Brisbon

Chetara Brisbon spent five years in the Army and attained the rank of Sergeant before transitioning to civilian life. During her time on Active Duty, she experienced two deployments to Afghanistan. While on deployment, she was responsible for keeping the base fed, and working with contractors on food operations. Following her deployment, she returned to Fort Jackson and was promoted to the training NCO, managing records and evaluations. Chetara has always had an interest in finance, and is the go-to person in her family for money advice. She has decided that the financial services profession is the career path for her, and she wants to learn as much as she can about this important field. “Additional education makes you stand out,” she says. “I want to understand the background before I get out there and start selling.” Chetara’s goals for this new chapter in her life are to continue learning, to eventually open her own business, and to raise awareness of the importance of financial security within her community. “I love helping people,” she says. Once she completes the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, she will be even better equipped to help.

Shaun Griffin

Shaun Griffin is a Navy Petty Officer Second Class and has been on Active Duty since 2012. Originally, Shaun had set his sights on becoming a state trooper, but he struggled to find placement. Many of his fellow applicants were veterans, and Shaun found himself passed over in favor of the others. It was at that point that Shaun decided to enlist in the Navy. He was stationed on the USS George H.W. Bush for three years and was part of the first strike group to hit ISIS. Shaun likes his current job as a member of the Navy's Public Affairs group because, as he says, “It's not about carrying a gun; it's about communication. I'm not put in danger every day, but I'm willing to pay the ultimate price for my country. Learning how much people appreciate service – just joining and serving – is a great achievement.” Shaun will complete the Master of Science in Management (MSM) program in the next year. He is looking forward to the experience, saying, "I'm always about furthering my education!" With his added knowledge and skills, he will be well poised in his new service role.

Theona Griffin

Theona Griffin is the spouse of a Navy E5 and fellow scholar, Shaun Griffin, and is currently stationed in Hawaii. After meeting her husband and joining the military lifestyle, Theona moved to Virginia Beach. While in the process of finding an apartment, she was offered a job by the property manager. She really enjoyed the experience of helping her clients, as she has always had a strong sense of service to others. When she was 19, she moved from Seattle to Maryland to help take care of her ailing grandmother, and she once considered a career in nursing. “I have a natural knack for helping people and making them feel at ease,” she says. She observes that her time as a military spouse has taught her the ability to adapt. “Being a military wife, I’ve had to get used to leaving everything I know behind,” she says. “I want to make sure I don’t hide in my shell.” This spring, after the birth of their second child, Theona and her husband Shaun will both be completing the Master of Science in Management (MSM) program. She will learn the kind of executive leadership skills so useful in helping others.

Tim Hall

Tim Hall was discharged from the Air Force after serving four years as Air Force Airman First Class, and later went on to retire from a successful career in the Postal Service. Now at the start of his third career, Tim is a Financial Advisor with Sanmar Financial Network, a boutique financial services shop. Tim says that his time in the Air Force taught him organization and focus. “If I have a 10:00 meeting, I’m going to be there at 8:30!” Completing the specialized curriculum in the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) program will better equip Tim to serve his retirement-aged clients. It will also allow him to attract Millennial and Gen X clients and impress upon them the importance of starting to save early for retirement. Tim wants to use his education to better his community, and to help his clients live their best lives. “So many options for African Americans have opened up, but help is still needed. I talk to my clients about planning for the future. ‘You want your kids to go to college? We can do that!’” Tim is ready for this next phase in making a marked difference in the lives of those around him.

Joanie Hammons

Joanie Hammons is the spouse of an Army Chief Warrant Officer who has been on Active Duty since 1998. Joanie has always had a knack for finance and an interest in helping others. Her first adult job was working as a bank teller, an experience she enjoyed. When her husband received orders to go to Germany, Joanie secured a job as a teller in the credit union on the base. She eventually was promoted to loan officer. Following another move to Huntsville, Alabama, Joanie applied for the Accredited Financial Consultant® (AFC®) Fellowship and received it. “My career took off after that,” she says. When Joanie and her husband were sent to Fort Bragg, she got a job in survivor outreach services, helping the families of fallen soldiers. “I remember my first clients – I felt so unprepared to help them. I knew I needed to up my skill level. I wanted to be knowledgeable to help others.” Currently, Joanie is stationed at Fort Lee with her husband and is a Financial Readiness Specialist. She says that one of the biggest lessons she has learned as a military spouse is to look on the positive side and try to figure out what you can gain from the situation you are in. “Everywhere I go,” says Joanie, “I’m going to make sure that they miss me when I’m gone.” Joanie will be completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, which will build on and complement her AFC®. She is going to do great things with her education.

Laurel Numbers

Laurel Numbers is the spouse of a U.S. Army Specialist veteran, whom she met shortly after his transition from Active Duty. Her husband served in the mid-80’s, including time in Central America during the Sandinista regime. After 15 years in the design industry, Laurel made the leap to the financial services profession about four years ago. “I went from not knowing the difference between stocks and bonds to passing the Series 7 on the first attempt!” Now Laurel also holds the Series 66 and licenses for Long-Term Care, Accident and Health, and Life and Variable. Recently, Laurel’s team, the Birdie Group at Morgan Stanley, shifted their focus to charitable giving. Laurel also helps widows and other women in need of assistance with personal financial management. When asked about her favorite part of her profession, Laurel says, “My work has a larger purpose than just feeding my family. I love helping a new widow create a financial plan, and helping her to be a blessing to the world around her. Compensation is so much more than money.” Laurel is on the right path as she completes the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® (CAP®) program.

Jessica Padden

Jessica Padden is the spouse of an Active Duty Army Major and she has volunteered with Financial Readiness and has worked with other financial education organizations since 2011. Currently she is volunteering at her base’s Army Community Service, but she would eventually like to start her own business. Helping soldiers and their families with their finances has been formative for her. Time after time, soldiers would come in with money trouble. Jessica says that her favorite part is when everything clicks for her clients. “There’s a moment when you see them think, ‘I can actually improve my life?’ I love that moment.” Jessica will complete the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, which will provide her with an advanced financial planning skillset.

Keith Watts

Keith Watts is a veteran Master Sergeant in the Marine Corps who retired after serving 26 years. He is also the spouse of a fellow scholarship recipient, Katrina Horsley-Watts. Keith enlisted in the Marines when he was 17 – his mom had to go with him to sign his enlistment papers. Originally, Keith’s plan was to serve only four years, but the weak job market led him to submit his re-enlistment package. “Along the way, I just grew to like it and stayed.” Assigned to work in food service, Keith’s responsibilities included keeping the base fed, designing nutritious meal plans, and choosing the kinds of foods that would keep Marines on base and not out spending money on meals. During one of his four deployments to Iraq, Keith met Katrina. “That was definitely one of the highlights of the deployment,” he says. Keith’s plan is to complete the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program and ultimately go into business with Katrina, helping to aid transitioning service members. “I’m still serving, I’m just not in uniform.” Keith and Katrina are going to be quite a team.

Juan Zapata

Juan Zapata is an Active Duty Army Lieutenant Colonel with over 22 years of service. Looking back on his expansive career, Juan says he has a new appreciation of what true commitment means. “As a young man, committing to anything is tough,” Juan says. “Once I made the decision to commit and enlist, I knew that anything worth doing is worth doing right.” After serving all over the world in a very successful active duty career, his transition from the Army is coming up this fall. Juan is currently an instructor at the Joint Forces Staff College. This tour has increased his regard for the importance of strategic thinking, leading to his conclusion that his next career might get a real boost from a degree from The American College of Financial Services. Juan will be completing the Master of Science in Management (MSM) program, which will help advance the leadership skills he acquired during his years of service.