October 2018 Scholarship Recipients
Robert Bacon (Beaumont, TX) says that joining the military was always a goal of his. “My grandfather was an infantryman in WW2. It was something I thought I needed in my life. I needed some discipline.” While initially attracted to the Air Force, he met an Army recruiter while waiting to speak to the Air Force recruiter. “They offered me a $3,000 signing bonus if I joined the military police. That’s all it took – I went in and signed up and I was a military police officer during my time.” Robert was sent to Iraq four days into the ground war in 2003 and spent a year in country running one of the main prison camps in Iraq. “Being in country was humbling and terrifying at times. I felt like my eyeballs were the lenses of a news camera!” After returning home, Robert spent some time working as a salesman and eventual manager for Verizon before transitioning to his current career with Merrill Lynch. “While I was at Verizon, I knew that I liked working with my coworkers and customers, and I had a knack for selling, troubleshooting, and problem solving.” Those skills made him a perfect fit for financial services. To better serve his target market of special needs families, Robert will be completing the Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (ChSNC®) program. “My daughter has autism. I know firsthand the triumphs and struggles families with loved ones with special needs go through. I want to be someone who helps families like mine make things just a bit easier.” Robert says. “When you’re helping people with finances, retirement, planning, savings, etc., you’re helping them achieve their goals in a measurable way. All of my training, expertise, and advice can help them meet their goals.”
Jeremy Baier (Bloomington, IL) was a sophomore in college on September 11, 2001. “A few weeks later I was talking to an Army recruiter,” he says. His mom encouraged him to first complete his undergraduate degree, which he did and followed it up with an MBA. “I finished my MBA in 2009 – in the heart of the great recession. That’s when I started looking at the military again.” He enlisted in the military police, which he calls “a fantastic experience.” Among his duties, he was sent to Germany for ceremonial support to U.S. Army and foreign dignitaries, working in close proximity to a three-star general. “I got to hold the American Flag on the 69th anniversary of D-Day in Sainte-Mère-Eglise in Normandy,” Jeremy says. Two years into his enlistment, the three-star general had recommended his name for Officer Candidate School. Jeremy was commissioned into logistics and served as a quartermaster officer in the 101st Airborne Division. “I got to lead troops and do a lot of great things.” Following the birth of his daughter, his perspective changed and he decided to transition from Active Duty. “I spent 5 years, 9 months, and 20 days in the Army. But who’s counting?” Jeremy took a summer internship at State Farm, which introduced him to his next profession. He is currently finishing a master’s in accounting and wants to complete the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program. This new career is a return to form for Jeremy. An aunt set up his first mutual fund account for him when he was 13. “It was enthralling, watching my money grow. I was the only high school kid who couldn’t wait to put all of my graduation money in my mutual fund!”
Richard Belanger (Strafford, CT) spent nearly seven years in the Army, attaining the rank of Staff Sergeant before transitioning from Active Duty. A linguist in the Army, Richard was trained in Korean before spending four years in Korea. “Most people only spend one year there; it was nice. I loved my time there; I loved the job that I did.” His skills in Korean have served him after his time in Army, as well. “I still go to a Korean church every Sunday to keep my skills up and translate the sermon for the non-Koreans,” he says. “I’ve made many clients there and have gotten many referrals.” Currently with Foresters, Richard has been enjoyed success in his career, qualifying for MDRT last year. His main market are veterans and schoolteachers. He is ready to build upon his years of experience by completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, and aims to sit for the CFP® exam. “The more value you bring to clients, the easier it is to find them,” he says.
Leonardo Bojorquez (Pittsburg, CA) says his three and a half years in the Marine Corps was a “learning experience.” During his time on Active Duty, he was deployed to Africa, which he calls “the greatest experience of my life” and was among the first responders to the conflict in Libya in 2010. The child of migrants, Leo says that his service provided him with not only discipline, but economic mobility. Now with Bank of America, Leo is working on taking his career to the next level in order to provide a better life for his two-year-old daughter. “It’s tough to work in a commission-only environment. I knew if I could get a job in the sector I wanted, I could mobilize myself to get the career I wanted.” By completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program and CFP®, Leo will be better equipped to transition from his current position as a relationship manager to working in wealth management. Leo is focused on his goals, especially earning the CFP® designation. “The CFP® is my goal. I am going to get it. It just depends on how long it takes me.”
Allen Keller (Tampa, FL) enlisted in the Marine Corps right out of high school as a trombonist. “I signed up well before 9/11, but it just so happens that my entry date was September 17, 2001,” Allen says. “My mom wasn’t at all pleased that I was joining at that time. The fact that I was in the band didn’t alleviate her concerns.” An accomplished musician, Allen had been given a full scholarship to pursue music at another school, but he had his heart set on serving his country. “I signed up for an artillery position. My recruiter found out I was a musician and told me to audition. The rest is history.” Allen’s tenure was spent in Albany, Georgia at a small Marine Corps logistics base. He did not have a lot of ceremonial responsibilities on such a small base, but he played a lot of recruiting functions and public awareness functions – he even played for the Queen of England! After leaving the Marine Corps in 2005, Allen earned a business degree from Florida State and later went on to earn a graduate degree in theological studies. He served in the ministry for six years after his time in the Marine Corps. Now, Allen is a compliance officer with Calton and Associates and is busy completing his licensing – he is currently working on his eighth license. On top of those licenses, Allen wants to complete the Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) and sit for the CFP® exam. “I love learning,” Allen says.
Eugene “Doug” LaCoste
Eugene “Doug” LaCoste (Keyport, WA) is an Active Duty Navy Captain currently stationed in Bangor, WA. His transition date is coming up early next year and he is looking forward to this next phase of his life. “I’m interested in finances, in financial planning, and in helping people.” A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Doug always had an interest in numbers. He studied engineering in college and then moved on to submarines, where he has spent his career. “I understand that there’s a lot I don’t know; I need to get the education first.” He will be completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program and will go on to sit for the CFP® exam. “My military career has been very rewarding,” Doug says. “And I know with determination and a positive attitude I can continue to make a difference in people’s lives as a financial planner.”
Chin Park (Fullerton, CA) enlisted in the Army three years after immigrating to the United States from Korea. "I went to community college; I tried to learn the language and culture - it's hard to do! I decided I needed to see a bit more of the world." Chin spent six years in the Army as an Apache helicopter mechanic. "I learned so much from the service; I'm happy that I had that experience." Chin has been at New York Life for 11 years and earned his Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow® (LUTCF®) designation from The American College in 2010. "I've survived in this industry, but I always wanted to learn a little more." He will be completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, which will expand his skillset and competence and allow him to better serve his clients. Chin is passionate about helping the people who have entrusted their money to him. "You're not just making commission," he says. "You're helping families and businesses build their goals and dreams."
Christopher Wilson (Niceville, FL) is a 1989 graduate of the Air Force Academy and retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel with 25 years of service. Much of his career was spent in Airborne Warning and Control as an Air Battle Manager. "I consider myself fortunate," says Chris. "I got to be a part of something much bigger than myself and participate in operations around the world." Some other career highlights include assignments in Alaska and Hawaii, as well as flying for NATO in Germany. Now in his fourth year with First Command, Chris is enjoying serving in a different way. "I respect the military and what they do for our country tremendously. Like most veterans, what I miss most from my time in the service is the people – now I see it as my job to take financial concerns off their plate," he says. "To allow someone to manage your family's finances is a sacred trust. I’m honored to be able to earn that trust." Chris will be completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, which will broaden his knowledge base and allow him to better meet the needs of his clients. "It doesn't matter who's sitting on the other side of my desk," Chris says. "They're going to get my best effort."
Benjjamin Zales (Brooklyn, NY) spent four years in the Navy under the advice of his father. “It was never my intention to become a service member, but he told me ‘every young man should serve.’” Originally from Haiti, Benjjamin became a citizen while in the Navy and served in the Gulf War as a medical corpsman. After serving his four-year commitment, he transitioned from active duty and attended college and later Radiology school, but he was not certain he had found his career yet. While looking for a new path, Benjjamin sat in on a meeting his parents had with a financial professional. “I was blown away,” he says. “This person talked to my parents for two hours about estate planning, financial planning, etc. I had no idea these types of people existed!” From that point on, Benjjamin had found his path. He quickly earned multiple licenses and started thinking about his next challenge – earning the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation and CFP®. “When it comes to money, nothing is impossible,” Benjjamin says. “It’s about having someone to help you achieve your goal.”