September 2016 Scholarship Recipients
Shabaka Clark spent 10 years in the Navy in law enforcement, achieving the rank of Petty Officer Second Class. Following his transition from the military, he spent a few years traveling and lived in the United Kingdom for a few years. Shabaka went on to start studying for an associate’s degree in business, which is where his interest in finance began. His goal is to complete his associate’s degree and move on to earn a bachelor’s degree in finance. He will complete the comprehensive Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program to help round out his education. He says his time in the Navy taught him how to work with people from all walks of life. “Be friendly and adaptable,” Shabaka says. “We all have to get along.”
Akea Craft is an Active Duty Army Staff Sergeant who will be celebrating 10 years in the Army in February 2017. Working as both a security manager and a technical officer has made her somewhat of “a jack of all trades in the Army,” Akea says. Her experiences in the Army have helped to shape her inherent skills. “I’m a natural leader,” she says. “If I can help others, I have to.” When Akea was a Corporal, she was given a role with responsibilities meant for someone at a higher rank, and was forced to adapt to the new responsibilities quickly. “My major told me, ‘You’re going to drown, so you better learn to swim.’ People were coming to me for help, so I had to think outside of my usual realm.” Thanks to Akea’s hard work, her unit’s ranking rose from 37th to 3rd, and she was promoted from Corporal to Staff Sergeant within a year and a half. Akea is going to continue to develop her natural leadership skills while studying for the Master of Science in Management (MSM) program.
Mike Pruitt is an active member of the Wisconsin Air National Guard. Currently at the rank of Staff Sergeant, Mike has had a unique military career. Originally, Mike did four years of active duty and worked as a mechanic on the AC-130 Spectre gunship. After transitioning from military service, he missed the challenging life of an airplane mechanic. He ended up moving to a town that had an F-16 Air National Guard unit, so he re-entered the service, “and thankfully didn’t have to go through basic [training] again.” He admits he is a bit older than many of the other Staff Sergeants, but Mike says he loves being able to help mentor the younger airmen. In his professional life, Mike has had experience working for some big name financial services companies and, while he learned a lot, when the opportunity came to go independent he jumped at the chance. What Mike enjoys most about this profession is helping people. “I like to solve problems,” he says. Similar to the work of a mechanic, his job now is to figure out the issues that his clients are facing and find a solution. Mike will now complete the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) program, which will better equip him to solve his clients’ retirement planning issues.
David Roberts is a disabled veteran who spent eight years with the 82nd Airborne, followed by three years as a Psychological Operations (PSYOP) Team Leader SGT. It is the responsibility of the PSYOP team to go into a community, establish if there is any anti-American sentiment or propaganda among the locals, and analyze the community’s attitudes about the presence of American troops. After his transition to civilian life in 2004, Dave earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and later a master’s degree in finance and accounting. He worked as an accountant for a few years before he felt drawn to the field of Information Technology (IT). Now studying for the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation, Dave plans to eventually open his own financial planning practice. Dave says that helping people is what drives him. His financial know-how and technical skills will be a winning combination in providing clients with the information and guidance they need to improve their personal finances.
Jessie Voisin 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 Ops, running day-to-day air combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He retired to spend more time at home with his two daughters. Initially, Jessie struggled to reenter the work force. “It’s hard to do when you’re in your mid to late 40’s,” he says. The first job offer he received was an administrative role at an insurance company. He was given more and more responsibilities, and gradually worked his way up to chief compliance officer. At night, Jessie studied for his insurance license and his Chartered Federal Employee Benefits Consultant (ChFEBC) designation. Eventually, he jumped 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. Now wrapping up his Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) program, Jessie plans to move on to the Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) program to hone his insurance expertise. “My goal is to work until my health won’t allow me to,” says Jessie. “I’m not here just to get a designation; I’m here to learn as much as I can.”