September 2017 Scholarship Recipients
Thomas Borjas (East Longmeadow, MA) spent four years on active duty with the Army and still feels the impression that his service left on him: “Without exaggeration, I can tell you that experience shaped everything I’ve accomplished since,” says Tom. “A handful of superior NCOs and officers taught me a lot about how to treat people, how to lead people, and how to deal with setbacks.” Tom served two years in Germany soon after the Berlin Wall came down. “When I got there, there was still an ‘Iron Curtain,’ and we had trained to fight the USSR. By the time I left, the USSR was gone; Germany was one country again; and Desert Shield/Storm had refocused our priorities to the Middle East. A lot of history happened in what felt like a very short time.” Following his time in the Army, Tom used his GI Bill to finish a BA in History at UMass-Amherst. While looking for a campus job, he stumbled on an opening in the school’s Development Office. “After a few months working in the prospect research, it dawned on me that the work was very similar to the intelligence work I had done in the Army,” says Tom. “It’s a different vocabulary, but the toolbox was similar. I thought, ‘Maybe this is something I can be good at.’” Tom has been working in development ever since. He will be participating in the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® (CAP®) program as a way to elevate his skills and contribute to society in a greater way. “I will never have the financial capacity to make transformative gifts, but I can contribute in my own way. With the appropriate expertise, I can help others refine their visions for what philanthropy can accomplish, not just today, but for years to come. If it can’t be from me, maybe some part of it can be through me.”
Jennifer Lear (Fort Knox, KY) is the spouse of an active duty Army Colonel in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Jennifer met her husband while both were law students at the University Of Nebraska College of Law in Lincoln, NE. Jennifer, a 1993 graduate, practiced law in Omaha where she worked as an attorney. Her husband finished law school in 1994, and then joined the Army. Jennifer practiced law in Fayetteville, NC, while Rick was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. In 1998, she retired from the practice of law to raise her three sons. In 2012, she became an Accredited Financial Counselor® (AFC®) in Daegu, Republic of Korea. She began working for Zeiders Enterprises in 2013, working with individuals in the active Air Force, Army, the Maine Air Guard, and the Virginia National Guard. She is currently working with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell and commuting to Fort Knox. “I enjoy helping service members with their money far more than I ever enjoyed practicing law,” she said. “I believe in a holistic approach that includes education, counseling, and planning. The Department of Defense gave service members the best defined-benefit plan in America, the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), but it has failed to provide meaningful education about the plan to service members. Helping them navigate the TSP and plan for retirement has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I can never repay the gratitude I feel for those who serve, but helping them making great financial decisions is the least I can do,” she said. “Becoming a Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) and hopefully a CFP® will allow me to do even more for them.”
Alina McDowell (Fayetteville, NC) recently separated from Active Duty after more than eight years of service. During that time, she attained the rank of Air Force Staff Sergeant. As a new mother to a six-month-old daughter, she is looking forward to starting a new chapter in her life. “I wanted to spend more time with her,” Alina says. She developed her interest in finance a few years ago when, “I figured out what I wanted to be when I grow up.” She is currently enrolled in the University of Maryland University College’s finance program and will be resuming her classwork this fall. To supplement her degree and to introduce her to the financial services profession, Alina will be studying in the Financial Services Certified Professional® (FSCP®) program, which will equip her with the necessary skills to enter financial services, and to thrive. “I want to make my money work for me,” Alina says, “and I want to help others do the same.”
Lynne Patterson (Joint Base Andrews, MD) is not only a military spouse and an Air Force veteran herself, but she was also a military child and grew up in a Marine Corps family. No stranger to relocating, Lynne moved 20 times before graduating from high school, and then moved another 15 times after marrying her husband. Both graduated from ROTC as distinguished graduates, and they started out as an Air Force Join Spouse couple. After the birth of their first child, the pressures of two deployment schedules became too much to handle, so Lynne transitioned from active duty at the rank of Captain. Now, 25 years later, Lynne’s husband is planning for his retirement. They are looking forward to their first taste of civilian life as a family, and Lynne is excited to be the breadwinner. Lynne, who holds the Accredited Financial Counselor® (AFC®) credential, is an operations supervisor with Zeiders Enterprises. In this role, she oversees the daily activities of the personal financial counselors who provide financial advice for military families around the world. Her next career goal is to move up the management ladder. Her sights are set on earning the Master of Science in Management (MSM) degree. The program will focus on the advanced knowledge and leadership skills necessary to progress to the next level. “I’m excited,” she says. “The way I see it, you sacrifice and support others as a military child, as a military spouse, and while on active duty. It’s Mom’s time now!”
Anthony Rizzo (Johnstown, PA) comes from a military family and has often thought about serving. His father and brother are both graduates of the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. His father had a successful career, and his brother is currently on active duty. “I always had an interest,” Anthony says. “But I never wanted to make the commitment.” After a number of successful years in the banking industry, Anthony realized he wanted a more client-based profession. He joined Nationwide and focused on the retirement arena, helping his clients make the best choices for their 401ks. “I started working as a financial advisor and I liked it,” he says. “But I was still missing something that would make me the best version of myself.” At 33, Anthony decided to enlist in the Army, and he finished boot camp in February. “I thought about doing Officer Candidate School but instead I wanted to enlist and learn from the ground up.” He is currently in the middle of a 400-day deployment and will soon ship out overseas where he will work as a petroleum specialist. “I can give up one year of my life to this great country,” he says. During his deployment, he will begin his online studies for the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program. When he returns to Nationwide, he will be equipped with a new wealth of skills to better serve his clients. “Being in the Army gave me a better appreciation for everything we have in this country, and for the great lengths we go to protect what we have.”
Chris Vorse (Kathleen, GA) is an Active Duty Air Force Colonel who found out about The American College of Financial Services through his brother and fellow scholarship recipient, Brian Vorse. Now in his 21st year of Active Duty, Chris spent his early career flying reconnaissance missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and on assignment in Kosovo. Now in a staff position, Chris is involved in program management and strategic resourcing, and is responsible for managing the 5-year plan for the Air Force budget. “It’s been a phenomenal career,” Chris says. “I would go back and do it all again. It’s time for a new career, though.” Looking ahead, Chris wants to enter the field of financial services, and knows there is a need for advisors with his skills in the profession. He will be completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program and plans to sit for the CFP® examination.