November 2017 Scholarship Recipients
Joseph Anderson (Windber, PA) followed his interest in finance out of high school and into the Air Force, where he spent six years in Biloxi, MS. After working in the payroll department for a few years, Joe moved into the role of budget analyst. During active duty, Joe spent five months on deployment in Qatar and says he “enjoyed every second of that.” His decision to leave the Air Force came when was faced with a move to South Dakota. “I enjoyed the Air Force, but chose to pursue college when faced with this decision," Joe says. After that, Joe worked for Concurrent Technologies, where he managed industrial hygiene and safety programs, but he felt like something was missing. He says, “I didn’t really have a passion for industrial hygiene.” Now, Joe is a full time financial planner with New York Life. “I have always wanted to help people,” he says. “I haven’t really been able to do that before, but now, I have the opportunity to help people and follow my passion in the financial services industry.” To enhance his MBA, Joe will be completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program and hopes to sit for the CFP® exam. In this way, Joe will build the skills and confidence needed for embarking on his new career.
Leon Grove (Mobile, AL) spent just under 14 years in the Marine Corps and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant before transitioning in 1996. Since 1997, Leon has been the CEO of Grove Financial Strategies, which offers financial advice and products to both individuals and businesses. Recently, Leon completed his first designation under scholarship with The American College, the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) and is now planning to study for the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) program to round out his skill set. “As financial services professionals, we are often tasked with helping clients accumulate wealth to be used at their end stages of life, or to pass on to their beneficiaries,” Leon says. “Completing the RICP® program will help me to continue the discussion of not only wealth accumulation, but also wealth distribution, and develop a practice that extends beyond the life of the client.” Leon knows the importance of having a good plan in place and how quickly life can change. In December 2016, Leon’s son, a sergeant in the Marine Corps, was in an accident during a martial arts demonstration that left him a quadriplegic. While his son will have the financial and physical care he needs, Leon has learned firsthand just how quickly plans can change, and he wants to provide that kind of support for his clients. “I want to be armed with the knowledge to achieve the best for my clients,” says Leon.
Brandon Jenkins (Jacksonville, FL) has spent 14 years in the United States Navy and has reached the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He plans to continue for a full 20-year career. In addition to being an accomplished Navy pilot, Brandon has the distinction of being one of the first Penn Mutual Center for Veterans Affairs scholarship recipients to complete his full program while still on active duty. He successfully completed the 9-course curriculum to receive his Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation, and will be taking the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) exam within two-and-a-half years of his scholarship award date. This is no easy feat while balancing a home life and an active duty military schedule. Brandon has been able to use the skills he’s gained from the ChFC® while still on active duty. “Ultimately, my hope is that I can encourage my sailors to make smart choices that will secure their families’ financial futures,” he says. Brandon will now complete coursework for the Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) designation, which will provide a strong foundation in life insurance. “As I progressed through the ChFC® program, I enjoyed the life insurance/risk management aspects of comprehensive financial planning the most,” Brandon says. “I obtained my life insurance agent license in the state of Florida at the same time I was completing the ChFC® program. Because I consider the CLU® designation to be the ‘gold standard’ for life insurance professionals, I want to pursue this education so that I can learn as much as possible, be ready to serve my clients, and be recognized as a leader in the field.”
Tiarra Johnson (Clarksville, TN) is the spouse of a veteran Army Sergeant who spent seven years on active duty. “The military life will take you all over the place!” Tiarra says. “There are challenges connected with that that civilians don’t see as often. The constant moving creates a financial hardship. That’s why I’m passionate about working as a financial counselor on the Army installation.” Tiarra has been a financial counselor stationed at Fort Campbell for the past two years. “My goal is to see five clients a day. I see a lot of student loans, very bad car deals, and I see more complex issues such as credit issues and identity theft.” Through her work with Zeiders Enterprises, she has discovered her passion. “I really love what I do,” she says. “I hope to continue to be a financial counselor at Fort Campbell and push that mission forward. I understand the military systems, but I have a lot more to learn. I just want to be the best resource I can be for these soldiers. Plus, I love to learn!” Tiarra will be completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation, which will provide the comprehensive knowledge she needs to better serve her clients. Tiarra is changing lives, one appointment at a time.
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 Corps. Colin later went on to receive an MS 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. In Durham, Colin met two successful financial advisors and the profession appealed to him. He found an opportunity with Merrill Lynch and quickly passed his licensing exams. He recently started in Client Acquisition and hopes to move into Client Services so 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 in the Navy. I think I can provide a tool to military members to help them put together a financial plan.” Colin is planning to complete the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program and wants to take the CFP® exam. 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.”
Brad Morris (Houston, TX) joined the Army in 1974 right out of high school and at the end of the Vietnam War. “I also recruited three friends from my street!” he tells us. After basic training, Brad was given a job as a truck driver and was sent to Germany. He was stationed in Bamberg as the S-1 / Colonel’s driver for the 1st of the 75th Field Artillery Unit. After one year in Bamberg, he was transferred to V Corps HQ in Frankfurt, where he worked as a courier, delivering documents around the country. “I got to see a lot of Germany. It was a very good experience.” Brad received a good conduct medal during his time in Germany, and returned home to Baton Rouge, LA intending to start at Louisiana State University. “I missed the fall semester, and while I was working, I discovered that if you joined the National Guard you were exempt from paying tuition, so I joined the National Guard.” After his sophomore year, Brad reactivated to active duty and was sent to military photography school, where he spent six months taking and developing photos 40 hours a week. “I was the most senior person there, so I was made Barracks Sergeant of the 300+ GIs in the school.” Brad completed his undergraduate degree at LSU, a Bachelor of Science degree in International Trade and Finance. He moved to Houston, thinking his job prospects would be better, and was hired by the firm Dean Witter Reynolds. He was awarded the President’s Merit Award in recognition of high achievement in his first year as an account executive. During that first year he earned his securities, commodities, and insurance licenses. “All of a sudden, I was in the right place at the right time,” Brad says. Brad has been with Foresters Financial for the past 14 years, has added his RIA license, and is looking ahead at a changing industry. “I think financial services are evolving, commissions are going away, and the majority of things will be fee-based.” By completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation, Brad says, “I’m positioning myself for success. I want to get as many designations as I possibly can.”
Allen Pechin (Portland, OR) is a Vietnam-era veteran who spent four years in the Air Force and reached the rank of Staff Sergeant. Entering the military was not part of Al’s original plan. As he puts it, “I was in college at the time. I dropped a class and didn’t realize I didn’t have enough credits. I was drafted very quickly after that.” Al says that his time in the Air Force taught him the value of teamwork and gave him the discipline needed for success, a discipline that he brought with him to his next career in the financial services profession. Al has been with AXA Equitable for 33 years, and has been a student of The American College for almost as long. He earned his Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) in 1989 and his Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) in 1990. “I was told that earning those designations would give you knowledge, and that they mean things to your clients. And they did; it really helped with building the business.” Al’s next goal is to complete the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) program so that he can further sharpen his skills. When asked about his favorite part of the job, he said, “Without a doubt, we have a significant impact on our clients. I used to tell my associates, ‘Aside from the clergy, you’re having the most impact on the lives of people.’”
Brad Price (McKinney, TX) transitioned out of the Air Force in 2012 at the rank of Senior Airman. During active duty, he spent time in Seattle, WA and Ramstein, Germany. Brad and his team were responsible for the security of their unit and its security systems. After returning home it was time to choose a second career, so he took the opportunity to shadow his father-in-law at his financial planning practice. He found that he enjoyed putting his accounting skills to use. Now a resident of McKinney, a suburb of Dallas, Brad has been tasked with the development and operations of the Planning and Insurance division of a rapidly growing CPA firm. He recently completed the Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) program and now wants to move on and complete the remaining courses needed to earn the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation. Brad has a strong desire to help and wants to be seen by his clients as an educator, not a salesman. “The role of educator is all about helping people, and instructing them about their options,” he says. “Throughout the past 10+ years, I have been empowered through education to provide the very best service to clients, and it is my goal to continue on that path.”
Michael Wojciechowicz (Rydal, PA) is a retired Navy Commander with over 30 years of active and reserve duty service, during which he received five outstanding military volunteer awards. “You learn quite a bit in the military,” Mike says. “It was an amazing ride. I don’t think any other job could match it.” Most of Michael’s career was spent as a Supply Corps Officer in the aviation community, where he was responsible for much of the department’s financial logistics and budgeting. While on a deployment in Iraq, Michael was injured and has been temporarily retired for the past five years during his rehabilitation. His formal retirement is coming up in December, and he’s looking ahead. “I always liked assisting other sailors with their finances,” Mike says. “I’m a CPA, and I’d help them with things like loan issues and budgeting. I found real value in that type of service. You reach a point in your life where you find the career path you really enjoy, and that’s where I am. I want this to be a true service-oriented career.” In preparation, Michael will be completing the comprehensive Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program and plans to sit for the CFP® exam.