May 2019 Scholarship Recipients

May 20, 2019
Marcus Best

Marcus Best (Durham, NC) of Homeland Estate and Financial Services in (HEFS-NC) has completed eight 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. Fortuitously, Marcus met a business owner who saw something in him and encouraged him to consider the Financial Services industry. "The teaching you get in a traditional college doesn’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.” Having recently completed the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) program, Marcus now has his sights set on the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®), which will give him a robust foundation to build upon as he progresses in his career. A father of 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 achievements, both in the military and as a civilian. She set the bar for my children and their children to do the same.”

Walter Davis

Walter Davis (San Diego, CA) spent four years in the Marine Corps and transitioned out at the rank of Sergeant. “I joined in 1999. I went to boot camp the day I graduated from high school.” For the first two years, Walter was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, and then transitioned to a Marine Expeditionary Unit for two years. As a post 9/11-era Marine, Walter was lucky to not be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan. “I did humanitarian work instead. I really enjoyed my time,” he says. Upon leaving the Marine Corps, Walter attended law school and passed the bar in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and California. He has been working for the Social Security Administration for the last 10 years, but he feels like it might be time for something different, specifically estate planning. “I like to be really thorough finding out all the different options; I have no problem crunching the numbers. It’s a win for me when the customer leaves with more than they were expecting.” To further bolster his expertise, Walter will be completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program and wants to then sit for the CFP® exam. “This program would give me the knowledge and confidence to offer more, and be a one-stop shop.”

Colin Lee

Colin Lee (Durham, NC) spent 20 years in the military and attained the rank of Navy Lieutenant Commander before retiring from the Navy Reserves in 2012. “I’m very proud to have served and don’t regret a single day,” Colin says. A native of Hong Kong, Colin moved to the United States with his mother and finished high school in San Francisco. “We didn’t speak any English,” Colin says. “I couldn’t even order a hamburger.” His military career began in the Army, but after going back to college and getting a bioengineering degree, he was recruited and commissioned into the Navy as an Officer in the Supply Corp. Colin later went on to receive a Master in Electrical Engineering from the Navy Postgraduate School, a Master of Quantitative Finance from Rutgers, and an MBA from Duke University. After retiring from the Reserves, Colin planned to use his quantitative finance degree, but he struggled to find a job. Upon moving to Durham, Colin met two successful financial advisors and liked the sound of their careers. He found an opportunity with Merrill Lynch and quickly passed his licensing exams. Just this month he started in Client Acquisition and wants to move into Client Services so that he can start giving back to the military community. “I don’t think we help military folks enough,” Colin says. “I didn’t receive any financial planning in the Army or the Navy. I think I can provide a tool to military members to help put them together a financial plan.” Having recently completed the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, he will be moving on to finish up his remaining requirements for the Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) designation. He knows he has his work cut out for him. “For now, I have to survive in the industry – there’s so much to learn and I’d like to get that phase out of the way as soon as possible so I can start giving back.”

Ricky Miller

Ricky Miller (Ft. Lee, VA) enlisted in the Navy in 1977 and spent his initial military career as a Nuclear Machinist Mate, an engineering role specializing in nuclear propulsion plants. The duties of the role required long stretches of time at sea, so when Rick heard of an opportunity to earn his commission and transfer to the Supply Corps, he jumped at it. The remainder of Rick’s career in the Navy was spent as a supply corps officer, running Navy Exchanges at Annapolis and in Japan. After transitioning at the rank of Lieutenant, Rick completed his MBA and enjoyed a career in supply chain management until retiring in 2017. “I wanted a new chapter,” he says. He joined First Command last year and has hit the ground running, passing the Series 7 and 66, and being recognized as the #1 New Advisor and the #1 producer in his office. “It’s been a good year, but more importantly it’s been a lot of fun.” Rick says. “You have a good feeling when you can get started with someone’s financial plan and get them started with their lives, and I think that’s what I was missing in supply management. I’m really enjoying it.” To jumpstart his career, Rick wants to complete the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program and is very excited to get started. “When I decide to do something, I do it.”

Richard Minton

Richard Minton (Pflugerville, TX) joined the Army in 1988 right out of high school and went on to serve for seven years, attaining the rank of sergeant. During his time in the Army, Rick deployed to Honduras, Egypt, and Jordon, served in Germany and in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal for his time in Cuba. “I enjoyed my time,” Rick says. “I was able to experience a lot of things.” Upon his transition out of the Army, Rick had planned to become a history teacher, but instead enjoyed a 20-year career with the Postal Service. Two years ago, Rick made the decision to switch gears. After he and his wife moved to Texas, Rick met a recruiter at a veteran’s job fair and took a job as a financial rep with Thrivent Financial. “At the end of the day, I felt called to Thrivent,” Rick says. After a successful first year, Rick was approached with a new position – Regional Development Leader. In this role, Rick launches new financial professionals into their careers with Thrivent, making sure they are getting the proper training and joint field work oversight – and he can do all of this while still maintaining his own book of business. “I’ve just loved it – it’s very rewarding,” Rick says of this role. “My first year was fairly successful, but this role didn’t exist when I was in my first year; I wish I had this support then!” Rick wants to further develop himself so that he can better serve his clients as well as Thrivent. He will be completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) and will go on to sit for the CFP® exam. “I see this as a step towards improving my craft,” Rick says.

Shannon Taylor

Shannon Taylor (Kyle, TX) is an Active Reserve Army Major in her 19th year of service. Shannon says that she comes from an area where “you either worked in a factory or in agriculture, and I didn’t really want to do that.” While in her first year of college at the University of Texas San Antonio, Shannon made some friends who were enrolled in the ROTC program. The idea of military service grew on her quickly. “I contacted a recruiter on a Monday,” she says, “and enlisted the following Friday.” She received her commission in 2005 and has served in a variety of roles including combat medic, trainer, and Company Command, which Shannon called “hands down, my favorite position in the military. I really felt like I got to impact soldiers directly, right away.” Currently Shannon is an instructor for the Captains Career Course, and teaches leadership principles to senior first lieutenants and brand new captains. In her civilian life, Shannon provides dedicated investment advice to credit union members. “I love what I do right now,” Shannon says. “I love being able to come in and take care of clients. I love the educational aspect of my job, doing workshops for the credit union members and providing ongoing training to the staff. I love it, and I’ve been told I’m good at it.” To help attain her goal of becoming a Senior Financial Advisor, Shannon will be completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, which will bolster her years of experience with a solid financial planning foundation.

Beth Watts

Beth Watts (Owens Cross Roads, AL) has been married to her husband for 14 out of his 15 years of Army service. “I never pictured myself as an army wife,” Beth says. “And then I met a guy in college and it went from there.” In their years together as a military family, Beth, her husband, and their children moved a number of times and endured several deployments. In 2008, Beth applied for and received the FINRA Military Spouse Fellowship Program, completing her Accredited Financial Counselor certification over the next two years, including logging 1,000 experience hours volunteering at the Army Community Service Center, working in the Financial Readiness Program. “That was a lot of fun,” Beth says. “I got to work with a lot of people with different experiences and I really loved the breadth of knowledge I could get from my coworkers.” She quickly gathered that the CFPs she worked with could “take it to the next level,” and has set her sights on earning that credential next. Currently Beth is a financial counselor for Zeiders Enterprises, providing on-demand financial counseling for Active Duty, National Guard, and Reserve military families, as well as teaching a range of personal financial readiness classes.