March 2018 Scholarship Recipients
Brandon Bettis (Peoria, AZ) joined the Army in 2006. He comes from a long line of veterans; his grandfather was in World War II, his father is a Vietnam Vet, and his stepfather was a Navy officer. Serving was something he always wanted to do. He almost dropped out of college after 9/11 but his father and stepfather talked him into getting his degree first so he could obtain a commission as an officer. He was first deployed to Afghanistan as an Infantry Company Executive Officer in the Korengal Valley. The Korengal Valley was one of the most kinetic and austere areas of Afghanistan and was featured in a documentary called Restrepo. During the deployment, he was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge and Bronze Star. After this he became a Company Commander at Ft. Bliss, TX where he led a 120 man mechanized infantry company. His final assignment was with the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) outside Washington DC. In this role, he was the lead planner for several presidential missions and ceremonial events. “I checked all the boxes that I came into the military to do and I wanted my children to have a more stable home.” After leaving active duty unsure of what to do next, he went to a military job fair. He met an Edward Jones recruiter at the job fair and has been working with the company for the past year. “It’s more about helping people and going the extra mile for your clients. It still feels like serving.” Brandon still serves in the Army Reserve and will be completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation. “I tell my wife if I ever complain about my paycheck, slap me in the face because I don’t want to do this for the money.”
Veronica Cordova (Temecula, CA) is the spouse of an Active Duty Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy with over 18 years of service focused on the critical at sea Aegis weapon anti-ship missile defense system. During her husband's time in the Navy, it seems they have been on the move constantly, growing their family with lots of adventure, but the moves and deployments have made it challenging to continue advancing her career in human resources. Veronica has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from San Diego State University and previously worked in the finance industry. “My heart is in financial services and I have a good understanding of insurance,” she says. During times of employment transition, Veronica served on their command's Family Readiness Group (FRG) Board supporting sailors' families and also built a successful MLM business leading a team of 20. With her husband's approaching transition from active duty in 2019, she has an opportunity to build a new career. Veronica will be completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation where she will be able to obtain the education and knowledge needed to succeed and serve her clients. Her dream is to build a thriving financial planning business that guides clients in planning for their best life.
Carlos Figueroa (Tucson, AZ) spent six years in the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of Petty Officer First Class (E6) and continues to serve as an active reservist. His family has a long tradition of service. With no plan after high school, Carlos decided to join the Navy. His fluency in Spanish made him a key team member for the riverine operations in the South America region where he performed interpreter duties. With his mother falling ill, he decided to transition out of the service, and discussed careers with an uncle in banking. This conversation led him to his current career with Wells Fargo, where he is a client associate. He has spent the past three years working with international clients. “I want to be someone who can help with finances, who can mentor and guide.” He has earned his Series 6, 7, 63, and life/health licenses. Pursuing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation, Carlos will be well positioned to not only advance his career, but to also better serve his clients.
Patrick Hernandez-Cigarruista (El Paso, TX) joined the Army Reserve in 2005. He was obtaining his college degree and decided to take a break to enlist. He was sent to Ft. Jackson, SC for basic training and immediately volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan where he was attached to the 160TH Military Police Battalion. He received the Army Commendation Medal for instantaneously reacting to a suicide bomb attack and safeguarding the lives of an international delegation. Upon his return, he completed his Bachelor’s Degree in International Business, and after struggling to find a good paying job started working security for Miller-Coors. He was called to active duty a second time to Ft. Lewis, WA in support of 1st Corps who was deploying to Iraq. As his second mobilization was coming to an end he decided he didn’t want to return to the same type of work. Patrick always had a strong interest in finance and despite the financial crisis, he recalled telling his wife, “I’m going to get a job in a bank; banks are doing fine and they’re not firing people.” He applied to J.P. Morgan three or four times before they gave him an opportunity. While learning the ins and outs of banking at J.P. Morgan and obtaining his investment licenses, he was deployed a third and final time for one year in Rose Barracks, Germany. Upon his return, J.P. Morgan Chase's compensation plan had changed, most likely as a result of the pending implementation of the new Department of Labor rules, which limited his abilities to sell investments as a licensed banker. He took a risk and began his own practice with New York Life, where he is currently working on building a solid financial planning business and is ready for his next challenge. “It’s important to me to keep improving my skill set for my clients and set myself apart from my peers. I take the same warrior ethos I learned in the Army and apply them to my professional life. I am trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills; I always maintain my arms, my equipment, and myself." Patrick will be completing the Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) designation, which will help him better serve his clients.
Colin Meddaugh (Mt. Pleasant, SC) is an Active Reservist Lieutenant Commander currently deployed to Bahrain. He received his commission as a naval officer in 2003, and is currently on his seventh deployment. One of the highlights of his career was after his second deployment when he returned home. He wasn’t interested in going to command route and his divisional officers sat him down to see if they could convince him to change his mind, saying they “We loved serving under you and would love to serve under you again.” That endorsement was enough for him to stay in the Navy. Prior to his recent deployment, he was working with First Command as a financial planner. Colin will be completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation and using this designation to better serve his clients. When asked what the military has taught him he said, “To never judge a book by its cover. You never know what other people know.”
Martin Melkonian (Houston, TX) joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 20 because “military had always grabbed my attention and I wanted to be part of the greatest military in the nation defending our country against terrorists.” After graduating high school in 2004, Martin attended a community college for a couple years before deciding to serve his country. During his time in the Navy, Martin successfully completed three tours in Iraq and in Straits of Hormuz. He initially selected a position in the supply department, but he knew he wanted to get more technical. He decided to get into Information Security, which enabled him to work with personal security and help determine national security threats. After completing the first two tours in conducting search and seizures of high threat Iraqi officials, Martin was deployed to Camp Bucca, which housed the highest threat Iraqi officials. One particular official Martin personally guarded was an ISIS leader. Martin was honorably discharged in August 2009, attaining the rank of Petty Officer Third Class. “One of the biggest assets I have is I think a mile ahead. I had grown to have a large interest in the legal field, specifically civil litigation. Before I discharged I knew I had to secure a position so I didn’t have to worry about finances when I got out; I didn’t want to be part of that statistic.” Martin ended up working for one of the top civil litigation firms in Los Angeles, CA. It was because of the field that Martin decided to get into the insurance sales sector. “During my time as a paralegal, we would get cases where the defendant didn’t carry enough insurance and at times they would lose everything they had worked for. On a professional level I would assist in getting the best results, and on a personal level I would be so upset about why a broker or company would not help an individual get properly insured.” Martin opened his agency in January 2015 in Los Angeles, CA. After running a very successful agency, he decided his heart belonged in Texas. Martin moved to Houston in May 2017 and is on track to be a future State Farm Agency Owner. Martin describes himself as ambitious, dedicated, and motivated and will be completing the Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) program. “I’m a proud veteran and I will always help my fellow less fortunate veterans as much as I can.”
Sheila Moorer (Blythewood, SC) is a U.S. Army Finance Corps Captain with 19 years of active duty service. Coming from a military family with two brothers and an uncle who each served in the Navy, Sheila joined the Army in 1998. After completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and expressing an interest in traveling, her brothers recommended that she join the Army. She enlisted as a Food Service Specialist with her first assignment at Ft. Hood, TX and then Ft. Sill, OK. She served as a Food Service Instructor/Writer at Fort Lee, VA with the Army Center of Excellence, Subsistence from 2004-2007. She trained hundreds of Advance Initial Trainees (AIT) on the Army Field Feeding system for tactical and technical competencies on the Army Food Service Program. She also served as the AIT emcee for both the Marine and Army Food Service graduates, which really set her apart from her peers. She enjoyed that position the most during her time as an enlisted soldier. Her Sergeant Major suggested she pursue a commission through the Army‘s “Green to Gold” program and she was selected in 2007. While participating in the Virginia State University ROTC program, she earned her Master’s Degree in Economics. This prepared her for tactical training at Fort Benning, GA as well as for the technical courses as a Finance Corps Officer at Fort Jackson, SC in 2009. She returned to Fort Hood, TX as a Second Lieutenant and served as a Detachment Executive Officer, assumed Command, and was the Brigade Financial Manager. Upon immediate completion of the Captains’ Career Course in 2013, she deployed to Kuwait for one year and redeployed in 2015. Sheila is currently assigned to the United States Army Central Command (USARCENT) as a Budget Officer, Main Command Post at Shaw AFB in South Carolina. She always wanted to serve and support people in the realm of finance and is now pursuing a career as a financial advisor. With the support of her family she says, “I wanted to come to the table with the credentials I need and I love working with people!” Sheila will be pursuing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation.
Joel Newburn (Hot Springs, AR) is former Chief Warrant Officer, serving in the Army for over 10 years. Wanting to be a pilot since he was a child, 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 and 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 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. With his wife now in the profession as well, they are able to work as a team. He is pursuing the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) designation to better support his clients and help them meet their retirement goals.