June 2018 Scholarship Recipients

June 13, 2018
Marcella Barnes

Marcella Barnes (Fairfax, VA) is a veteran of both the Army and the Navy with a combined 16 years of service under her belt and is also the spouse of a retired disabled Army First Sargent. Originally from Panama, Marcella comes from a family that emphasizes the importance of military service. “It was probably the best decision I’ve made in my life,” Marcella says about her service. “By going into the military, I learned about people, about communicating, and how fortunate we are in our country because of our military.” Early in her career, Marcella was working in the medical field and was upset to learn that, in many circumstances, a patient’s insurance determined the level of care they were able to receive. “I thought that was unfair. If you’re sick, you deserve the best of what’s available. Instead, if you have Blue Cross, I can’t give you x or y medication.” That experience has stuck with her in her current career in financial services. “I looked at 15 different companies; I wanted to work for the company with the best available products.” Not wanting to be restricted to selling proprietary financial products, Marcella joined First Financial Security because of their wide catalog of products. “Everyone has a different story,” Marcella says. “So you have to cater to what they need.” Marcella will be taking the Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) program, which will broaden her education and skills with insurance products and help her better serve her clients. “In my life, I always felt the best when I was serving others. The more I learn, the more education I have behind it, the more I can equip and teach more people.”

Marcus Best

Marcus Best (Durham, NC) of Homeland Estate and Financial Services (HEFS-NC) has taken on the fiduciary duty to specialize in preventing people from losing money and positioning their assets to have a much more favorable outcome for the future. Prior to this accomplishment he completed 8 years in the Navy with many awards and achievements as a Petty Officer Third Class. Initially, he joined as a reservist and planned to make a career in Navy. “I wanted to be a supply officer,” Marcus says. After returning home from a deployment to Afghanistan, he was diagnosed with asthma. Once his contract was up, he decided against reenlisting, as his breathing problems would prevent him from completing his physical fitness exams. Fortuitously, Marcus met a business owner who saw something in him and encouraged him to consider the Financial Services industry. Marcus had been enrolled in a finance degree program before ultimately changing to a supply chain management program, so he already had an interest in working with people’s money. “The teaching you get in a traditional colleges don’t really prepare you for what you need to know as a financial professional. Over the next few years, I want to earn a few designations.” The first designation on his radar is the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®), which will give him a robust foundation to build upon as he progresses. This program will cover the application and planning process of finances, insurance planning, income taxation, retirement needs planning, investments, estate planning, and personal financial planning. The father to six children, Marcus is a family man who wants to inspire his kids. “I just want to be a good example for them and push them to do better. My mom has obtained her Masters and Doctorate Degree along with many career achievement both in the military and as a civilian. She continues to exceed her own measurements today, which drives me to achieve my professional designations through continuous education and experiences. I want to achieve even more than she has and set the bar for my children and their children to do the same.”

Joel Newburn

Joel Newburn (Hotsprings, AR) is former Chief Warrant Officer, serving in the Army for over 10 years. He wanted to be a pilot since he was a child, so he enlisted at 18 to pursue that dream. After first serving as an air traffic controller in Balad, Iraq he eventually went to flight school became a Blackhawk pilot. Because of the need for his skills, he often flew Navy SEALS to “drop them in the back door to find the bad guys.” He transitioned out of the Army to start a family back home but found his flying skills were not in as much demand in Arkansas. A friend introduced him to the financial services profession and he discovered the soft skills he developed in the military translated well to serving others financial needs. His wife is now in the profession as well so they work as a team. Having recently completed the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) designation, he is now pursuing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation to better support his clients and help them meet their financial goals.

Christian Stearns

Christian Stearns (Cape Coral, FL) is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel with a remarkable 28-year career. The first nine years of his career were spent on Active Duty in Special Operations, flying C130s, and then he transitioned to the reserves and served until 2015. During his career, Chris was the recipient of three humanitarian service awards – notably for his work on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the earthquake in Haiti. Upon his transition from the Air Force, he moved back home to Florida to help take care of his parents. Christian was introduced to the financial services industry by a classmate of his from the Air Force Academy. “I’ve known about First Command for most of my military career. I was already handling the finances for my family and I needed a flexible schedule, taking care of my parents. It seemed like a good fit.” Chris’s goal is to earn the CFP® designation and will then complete the remaining coursework for the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®). This career is a natural fit for Chris’s interest in finance. “I took one personal finance course in college and I think that was the most practical course I took during my college career. I’ve seen what happens to people when they don’t do a good job handling their finances – it’s important and it doesn’t get addressed much. I’m happy to be able to start people off on a good foot – it’s very rewarding.”

John T. Thorne, Jr.

John T. Thorne, Jr. (Columbia, SC) is a medically retired Army Captain and double Purple Heart recipient. During his career in the Infantry and Military Police Corps, John was deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba, and Bosnia. For the first 11 years John was an Enlisted Soldier and Non-Commissioned Officer. He then graduated Officer Candidate School and earned his commission as a Second Lieutenant. He served as a Platoon Leader, Detachment Commander, Company Commander and Battalion Operations Officer over the next nine years. At home, John has been a licensed agent for the past 18 years and has “started” his financial services career about 4 times. Now that he has no more deployments in his future, John is ready to begin again in earnest. His says that his time in uniform has prepared him to serve his clients. “When working in Soldier care, you have to have a lot of sympathy and empathy and a willingness to put yourself in someone else’s shoes before you make decisions that affect them.” To better aid his older client base, John will be completing the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®), which will equip him to make the best decisions with his client’s retirement funds.

MaRico Tippett

MaRico Tippett (Vail, AZ) is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and graduate of the Air Force Academy. Much of his career was spent flying C-130s and teaching others how to fly them. A veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Rico did two tours in Afghanistan before transitioning to the Arizona Air National Guard. His interest in financial services began when he noticed that many of the soon-to-be retired pilots after 9/11 were looking for airline jobs and there were none. “I came home and told my wife, ‘we need to have a plan B’. If I was going to do something different [than flying] I wanted it to be something I loved. Community, business, and finance – the middle of that Venn diagram was philanthropy.” Rico established his own firm and earned the Masters of Science in Financial Services in 2011 and says he “wants to do well by doing good.” His next educational pursuit will be the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® (CAP®), which will equip him with the skills to help clients create lasting legacies. “I don’t need to make big bucks,” he says. “I want to spend my life and my time doing something meaningful.”

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