May 2017 Scholarship Recipients
Austin Balf characterizes the four years he spent in the Marine Corps, where he attained the rank of Lance Corporal, as “by far the best thing I ever did. My entire mindset has been different since I got out.” After his transition from active duty, Austin started working with North Carolina Farm Bureau Insurance for several years before breaking out on his own. He was approached by the Tonda Phillips Agency, where he was offered the position of agency manager. “A lot of potential exists in this opportunity,” he says. Austin has always had a talent for numbers, stating, “The only subject I ever liked in school was math.” Austin considers one of the most gratifying aspects of his current professional role to be that of teaching people about their overall financial picture. “I know how it felt when I didn’t know these things, and I want my clients to leave my office knowing as much as I can tell them.” After completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, Austin will be even better equipped to continue to serve his clients and protect their future financial security.
Jenny Bui is the spouse of a Marine Corps Master Sergeant currently based in Okinawa, Japan. Jenny and her husband actually met when they were in junior high school, but they did not start dating until after college. “He was already halfway through his career at that point,” she says. Being a brand new military spouse comes with its unique challenges, she explains. “It’s not a lifestyle for everyone. It’s a tradeoff – you get to see the world, but you don’t have your husband around to see it with you.” A lover of the outdoors, Jenny says her dream is to open her own outdoor health and wellness store. “Any business venture requires a strong financial mindset,” Jenny says. To sharpen her natural knack for numbers, Jenny will be participating in the Financial Services Certified Professional® (FSCP®) program, which will give her a strong financial foundation. “This opens up a door for me that I didn’t really think was possible.” Mastering the content of this course will help Jenny get closer to realizing her dream.
Tara Gould is the spouse of an active duty Marine Corps Staff Sergeant and is currently based with her husband in Okinawa, Japan, for the second time. “This was our first duty station,” Tara says. Ten years later, they are back where they started. While she initially struggled to find a job, Tara began volunteering with the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society. She eventually applied for and received the FINRA Fellowship to earn her Accredited Financial Counselor® (AFC®) designation. Now, Tara is hoping to expand her knowledge by completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program. “I never want to stop learning,” Tara says. “I have a passion for education. I’m interested in advisor roles, but what I really enjoy is teaching.” This educational opportunity will allow Tara to continue to accomplish great things.
Ashley Loft is the spouse of an active duty Marine Corps Corporal and is currently stationed with her husband in Okinawa, Japan. Originally from Ventura County, CA, Ashley met her husband while they were in high school, but Ashley was not your typical high school student. By withdrawing in her sophomore year and joining a homeschool program, Ashley was able to graduate when she was just 15 years old. “It gave me plenty of free time to explore possible career paths to pursue,” she says. After completing high school, Ashley had a number of internships, including working in the entertainment industry and acting as a spokesperson for the Barbizon International Modeling School. “My mom always told me to have a Plan A, a Plan B, a Plan C, and a Plan D just in case something happens.” While working at Barbizon, she was promoted to workshop director. In that role, she was responsible for helping with sales and working with client families, which Ashley says sparked in her an interest in numbers. Once she moved to Okinawa, Ashley got a job working with Tricare, processing service members and their families’ overseas enrollments. “I’m working within the insurance field,” she says, “and I really enjoy it.” By completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, Ashley will receive an extensive education in financial services, which will help her reach her ultimate goal of working for Goldman Sachs. “I am sure I can do a lot of good with this education,” says Ashley.
Mark McMahon served in the Army from 2000 to 2004 and achieved the rank of Captain before he transitioned from active duty. “I had a fantastic experience in the military,” Mark says. “It continues to be one of those foundational experiences in my life that I always come back to.” Now based in Upland, CA, Mark was introduced to the financial services profession through his father-in-law, with whom he now works. “I wasn’t fulfilled by my role in the corporate world, and I really enjoyed hearing about the relationships he had with his clients and the ways he was empowering them to solve their problems. It was about providing real tangible help to people. I wasn’t getting that kind of experience in my corporate job.” Their typical client is approaching retirement or already retired, and now Mark is eager to attract younger clients (many of whom are the children of existing clients) to help grow the firm. To meet the demands of a more diverse client base, Mark will complete the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, and he plans to earn the Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) designation in the future. Mark is poised for great success.
Douglas Orr from Panama City, FL, is a Navy chaplain who recently transitioned to the Navy Reserves. Doug grew up in a military family and when he was called to the ministry, he felt like he wanted to serve a larger community than his local congregation. “The opportunity to serve men and women who are serving our country was very fulfilling,” Doug says. As chaplain, Doug counseled service members and their families on a number of topics. He noticed that a lack of financial knowledge was prevalent. “Whenever he did premarital counseling, finance was always one of the categories we would consider,” says Doug. “Just so the couple would have an understanding that money doesn’t grow on trees, that you can’t go to the food court every day, or that you shouldn’t buy a $70,000 sports car on a $20,000 salary.” Doug will be completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation, so that he will be able to offer even more comprehensive financial advice to those he serves.
Stacey Pennington is the spouse of an active duty Army Sergeant First Class who has been serving for the past 17 years. Her time as a military spouse has been an enjoyable one. "It's been fun. I've cried, I've laughed, and I've met a ton of wonderful people." Stacey's husband, Christopher, was deployed to Iraq four times in five years. "He was gone 46 out of 60 consecutive months," says Stacey. After a number of Permanent Change of Station moves, Stacey and her husband now reside in Stafford, VA. Her husband is assigned to a unit in Washington, DC, and Stacey is an Education Services Facilitator for Fleet and Family Services. In this role, Stacey wears many hats, including family employment readiness program manager, life skills educator, volunteer coordinator, and contact person for Navy Gold Star families. Stacey calls her work with Gold Star families "truly one of the best, most humbling" experiences she has ever had. After earning the Accredited Financial Counselor® (AFC®) certification in 2008, Stacey has enjoyed the financial education component of her job. Her ultimate goal is to operate a military family support center and serve as the installation director. She will be completing the Master of Science in Management (MSM) to help expand her existing leadership skillset. The most rewarding parts of her job, Stacey says, "are the lightbulb moments. When you tell someone, 'I cannot make any guarantees that you'll get a job, but if you work with me, your potential for getting a job will increase.' I have many satisfied clients and a high success rate." Stacey will continue on her path of serving others.
Joshua Pierson from Bellingham, WA, comes from a military family. His father was a Vietnam War Veteran, and his great uncle was a Rear Admiral. “It was a natural direction for me to choose,” he says. Josh spent four years in the Army, reaching the rank of Specialist before transitioning in 1994. “I appreciated being able to serve my country. It meant a lot to me to do my part.” More recently, Josh has been a business owner in the scrap metals trading industry. He also advised clients in insurance and financial matters, and worked as a postal clerk. He completed his MBA in 2016. Josh has been active in financial advising and insurance to one degree or another since 2010. Now he is looking forward to building upon his success by completing the Financial Services Certified Professional® (FSCP®) program.
Anthony Uribe spent four years in the Air Force and attained the rank of Senior Airman before transitioning from active duty in 2005. Tony’s first few months in the Air Force were a unique experience – his first full day of service was on September 11, 2001. “I watched the North Tower come down from across the river. We knew – every recruit that was there knew we were going to war.” Originally assigned a job as an avionics technician and given three months of training, Tony was sent to Iraq and Afghanistan to help the security forces that were already there. Tony called it a trial by fire. “At 21, I already had the experiences and responsibilities of a 34-year old. It made me grow up quickly.” Now, based in Pembrook Pines, FL, Tony is putting his finance degree and his MBA to work as an investment advisor at David Lerner and Associates. He will be using the knowledge and skills he will learn as part of the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program to expand to the minority market. “The markets overseas don’t work as well as ours do; and so, when Latinos come to the United States, they don’t trust our markets. There is much mistrust in that underserved community. I think I could make a difference.” Tony is on the right track to accomplish great things.
Jessie Voisin, RICP®, CLU®
Jessie Voisin, RICP®, CLU®, is a retired Lieutenant Colonel who spent 17 of his 21 years in the Air Force as a fighter weapons system officer. Prior to his retirement, Jessie spent two years as Director of Current Operations, running day-to-day air combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He retired to spend more time at home with his two daughters. Jessie struggled to get back into the workforce. “It’s hard to do when you’re in your mid- to late-40’s.” The first job offer he received was for an administrative role at an insurance company. He was given more and more responsibilities and eventually worked his way up to chief compliance officer. At night, Jessie studied for his insurance license, as well as for the Chartered Federal Employee Benefit Coordinator (ChFEBC) designation. Eventually, he moved into the role of independent agent, although he still consults on compliance issues for the insurance company that hired him. He currently specializes in helping federal employees manage their retirement benefits. “I can talk about retirement because I lived it!” he says. Having recently completed the Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) program, Jessie will expand his skills by completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) curriculum. “My goal is to work until my health won’t allow me to,” says Jessie. “I’m not here to just get a designation; I’m here to learn as much as I can.”