May 2018 Scholarship Recipients
Shawn Burton (Houston, TX) enlisted in the Air Force out of high school, serving from 1986-1995. He was stationed in Germany and deployed to support Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, where he learned how to work with people, how to have self-discipline, and to “never give up.” He says, “It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I joined for a job and to travel, but my time in uniform instilled in me a sense of purpose, and a patriotism with pride in defending our way of life.” He has been in the financial services profession for several years, working with Primerica for several years before transitioning to New York Life. He sees his current career as an extension of how he can continue to serve others, saying “I enjoy helping and communicating with people, and I have become pretty good at it!” He will be pursuing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation, and plans to get through the program quickly so he can not only gain the knowledge, but also better support his clients.
Daniel Grogman (Woodbridge, VA) is an active duty Army Sergeant First Class with over 21 years of service. His career has focused on transportation and logistics, which has stationed him at various locations around the country and overseas, including deployments to Hungary and Iraq. Along the way, he has earned a degree in Criminal Justice, graduating summa cum laude. Based on his leadership and performance, he was inducted into the prestigious Sergeant Audie Murphy Club for enlisted non-commissioned officers and had served as the club president for the Fort Lewis Chapter. He currently serves in the United States Army Transportation Agency, a hand-selected unit. As he looks for a second career, he took stock in his own financial journey and considered the financial services profession. He says, “One of the biggest downfalls for military folks is that too many of them are living paycheck to paycheck. Providing sound financial advice could make a big difference.” He will be pursuing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation with the goal of completing much of the coursework before he takes off the uniform.
Paul Henderson (Norfolk, VA) is an active duty Navy Lieutenant Commander currently stationed on aircraft carrier USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72). An Annapolis graduate, he spent several years as a helicopter pilot, which included a tour where he was hand selected for an assignment with 5th Fleet in Bahrain. During this tour, he was able to sit in on high-level meetings chaired by then General James Mattis. He says, “I went into the Navy to fly, but I have stayed in because of the people and camaraderie.” During another tour, a tragic accident swept a fellow helo pilot overboard into the Red Sea. Seeing his shipmate’s wife struggle with no life insurance was one of the inspirations for him to begin laying the groundwork for a career in the life insurance profession. While he still has several years prior to his transition, he has already earned his life and health license and serves as the command financial specialist. He will be pursuing the Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) designation. He considers taking care of families and loved ones when tragedy strikes a noble profession.
Luke Lu (Dallas, TX) has 17+ years of service and conducted his scholarship interview while deployed with the Army National Guard in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. Born in Vietnam, he survived an extraordinary escape as a boy with his family after three attempts, one of which resulted in being robbed at the border. The family traveled first to Cambodia for a year, then to Thailand for four years, and finally made it to the United States. He values the precious freedoms of his new country dearly, which is one of the reasons he continues to serve today. He volunteers for groups such as “Friends of Africa” and sets up workshops to help fellow soldiers with their finances. He views the scholarship opportunity at The American College as “the opportunity of a lifetime to establish a career upon my transition.” He says, “The military values, traits, and leadership principles have helped prepare me for the next step in my career.” Luke has already been a general lines agent with a couple insurance companies and will be studying for the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation while deployed in Africa. His goal is to be a provider for his family, help the disabled, and assist veterans, elderly, and children with their finances.
Michael W. Parker, Jr.
Michael W. Parker, Jr. (Houston, TX) spent 13 years in the Marine Corps, ultimately attaining the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 2. Joining right out of high school, Michael displayed leadership qualities early on – skills that earned him a Combat Meritorious promotion to sergeant. Michael was deployed to Iraq as a radio technician during Operation Enduring Freedom and during the first battle of Fallujah, he was in charge of communication support of the commanding officer – a role key to the success of the mission. Michael recently completed the Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (ChSNC®) designation to help focus on the special needs market. “My daughter was born with a medical disability,” he says, “so I have a natural passion for assisting families with special needs situations.” Currently with MassMutual, he is now a special care planner within his team, becoming the “go-to” person. He will be pursuing the Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) designation to boost his career in the coming years.
Mark Scott (Tulsa, OK) spent 8 years in the Marine Corps, serving from 2001-2008. He was assigned to a special weapons unit at Ft. Sill and eventually served in the Anbar region of Iraq. “One of the benefits of my time in uniform”, he says, “was I developed a greater understanding of people and human nature.” After transitioning back to civilian life, he got married and is now a new father. He has advanced his education as well, with an undergraduate degree from Oklahoma Wesleyan University. Now with Thrivent, he also holds his Series 7, 66 and life/health licenses. Regarding his new and budding career, he says, “through conversation and analysis, we create a strong foundation of trust for the relationship to grow and transform into a long-term relationship instead of a transactional experience.” He will be pursuing the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) designation.
Miriam Stocks (Fredericksburg, VA) is a U.S. Marine veteran who was once deployed to the Korean DMZ area as a disbursing clerk. Her dad, A Korean War vet himself, passed such a sense of service to his family that all five children served in the U.S. Marines. She has been serving in positions related to finances while raising two girls as a single mom. During that period, she learned the importance of diversification saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, and not just your portfolio, but other aspect of your life as well.” As a recent “empty nester,” she is looking to branch out further into the financial services profession to help individuals with their finances. She recently opened her own financial consulting firm but recognizes the need to improve her education to best serve her clients. When she stumbled across the veteran scholarship opportunity at The American College, she says, “It was an answer to a prayer, no doubt!” She will be pursuing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation.
Bernie Stone (Des Moines, IA) retired from the Army after a very successful career, which began in tanks, but transitioned to being a Foreign Area Officer (FAO) in Eastern Europe and Russia. Working to advance our nation’s strategic goals, he was involved in many interesting efforts, was stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow as an Attaché, and actually received the Medal of Merit from Lithuania (their Medal of Honor) for his work. A prudent and successful financial planner for himself, he was able to retire in his early 40’s. It was not too long before the slower pace of retirement drove him to seek another challenge, which included dabbling with the idea of becoming a brew master. It was during this period when New York Life reached out to him with a new career opportunity. As he observed the leaders in his newly chosen field, he noticed the most successful had the Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) designation from The American College. “I believe in the power of education” he says, “and pursuing this designation is the natural next step for me.”
Dawn Torres-Gale (Portland, OR) met her future husband Chris in San Francisco in 2000 when she was working for the National Park Service at the former Presidio Army Base. He was an active duty Coast Guard member assigned to Pacific Area Command in Alameda, California. Dawn was raised in a struggling single-parent household that included a brief placement in foster care in her junior year of high school after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Dawn earned a Bachelor Degree in Political Science from San Francisco State University after eight consecutive years of attending college at night while she worked during the day and raised her daughter. When Dawn was a graduate student at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, she volunteered as a court appointed mediator in one of Hawaii’s small claims courts. During her work in court, she was disturbed to witness individuals and families facing the consequences of poor financial decisions that resulted in part from a lack of financial literacy. These experiences motivated her to become more active in addressing the need for financial education and counseling for consumers. Dawn earned her Accredited Financial Counselor® (AFC®) certification in 2012 and has provided financial counseling services to military members and their spouses since then at installations in Massachusetts and Oregon. Dawn’s goal is to earn her Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) designation and become a fee-only financial planner with a specific focus on helping middle class individuals and couples achieve “holistic financial wellness.”