March 2019 Scholarship Recipients
Zachary Aardahl (Burke, VA) spent six years in the Navy after graduating from the NROTC program at The Citadel, Military College of South Carolina. Zach spent two tours as a Surface Warfare Officer and later transitioned to working in cryptography as an Information Professional. For a period, Zach served as a Casualty Assistance Calls Officer (CACO), working with families of servicemen killed in action. While serving as a CACO, Zach saw firsthand how fragile the finances of many families are. “Every case I dealt with was heartbreaking in its own way,” Zach says. “But it reinforced my resolve to help those I could, and eventually provided me the strength to pivot into an entirely different career field when I left the Navy.” While considering his options for a post-Navy career, Zach reached out to a family friend and financial advisor for some perspective on financial services. “I worked with him on creating a plan for my next steps, getting my licenses – now I’m working on building up my client base.” Zach is working on the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation, which will provide him with a solid foundation on which he can grow a successful career.
Josh Armey is an activated Air National Guard Lieutenant Colonel with over 20 years of service currently stationed in Nellis Air Force base in Las Vegas. The family, however, remains at home near Toledo, OH for this assignment. Josh is a previous F16 Instructor Pilot who recently transitioned to the F-35. He is currently serving at the USAF Fighter Weapon’s School on a two-year order activation due to the pilot shortage. In the civilian world, Josh is a financial services executive who is interested in making the jump to starting his own veteran-focused financial planning firm when he is finished with his Las Vegas assignment. His specialized experience as both a financial professional and veteran will allow him to attract a network of clients interested in not only the traditional insurance, estate, and investment planning, but also things like VA benefit entitlements, separations, transitions, and long-term military retirement. To further his skills and build his confidence, Josh will be taking the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) and will sit for the CFP® exam, which will provide him with a robust complement of skills to serve him in his next chapter.
Carl DiMailig (Las Vegas, NV) spent eight years in the Marine Corps as a language specialist and loved his time in uniform. “I loved it,” Carl says. “I loved everything I got out of my time as a Marine. I don’t think I could have handled much more of that lifestyle, though – I felt myself getting old fast!” Upon Carl’s arrival home, he did pre-med coursework and then went to chiropractic school. He owned his own chiropractic office for 10 years, but some service-related injuries made it difficult for him to continue such a physically demanding career. “I wasn’t physically able to adjust people after a while.” The considerable education that Carl completed left him with considerable student loan debt. Balancing his student loan payments while also opening his own practice taught Carl some valuable lessons and people started coming to him for advice. Thus began Carl’s path to working in financial services. Currently Carl owns his own business, College Loan Angel, where he teaches borrowers how to bundle life insurance and student loan repayments. Looking ahead, Carl wants to pursue a career in philanthropic planning, saying, “people who have wealth want to do something with it – they just need direction.” Carl will be completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, which will give him a baseline understanding of financial planning upon which he can build his career.
Rachel Faddis (Selma, TX) is an Active Duty Army First Lieutenant with 10 years of service. “I always wanted to serve,” Rachel says. “I felt like I needed to go into the military.” Prior to becoming an officer, Rachel enlisted in the Army and worked in intelligence. “I basically sat in a basement with a computer. It wasn’t for me – I needed to get around people.” She took a one-year nursing program and received her RN license and has been working as a nurse ever since. “I love that job,” Rachel says. “I really like working with people.” Looking ahead, Rachel is interested in working with people in a different way and thinks a career in financial services aligns well with her strengths. “I’ve got my family on track with getting out of debt and school debt. I never thought that I could get there. Now that I’m there, I want to help other people do that, too.” Rachel is going to foster this interest in finances by completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, and wants to go on to sit for the CFP® exam. When asked what appeals to her most about this next career, Rachel said, “To be able to see someone come through at the end of the tunnel. It’s a hard road and it’s going to take a ton of work – to be able to say ‘I finally did it!’ – I want that for others.”
Cole Ferrier (Edgewood, WA) was trying to plot out a course for himself after high school when a friend of his suggested that Cole go with him to visit an Air Force recruiter. “I’ve always been a tech geek,” Cole says. “I didn’t know computer-related jobs were an option in the military.” In order to obtain one of these coveted technical jobs, Cole had to pass the daunting Electronic Data Processing Test. “The recruiter said, ‘you’re never going to be able to get a computer job because you’ll never pass this exam,” Cole says. ‘It’s too hard. I’ve never had anyone pass it.” Well, Cole passed it. “I was happy to be able to help my country in the way that I could.” Cole served for four years and separated at the rank of Senior Airman in 2006. In January 2007, Cole bought a house. Shortly after that, the housing market crashed and suddenly Cole’s house was worth $100K less than he bought it for. With his house upside down, and his employer going through multiple rounds of layoffs, Cole was inspired to learn how to prevent himself from getting into such a financial emergency again. He stumbled upon the Financial Independence movement and learned how to right his financial ship in life. Through this journey, others started to ask for his advice and those interactions have inspired a passion for a career in financial services. Cole will be completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, which will provide him with an immediately useful, practical education and a path to continue serving. “I’m always interested in taking on a challenge and owning that,” Cole says. “Between the Air Force and financial services – those are both things that, while I get a benefit out of it, the real benefit is for others.”
Michael Hunsbeger (Lompoc, CA) is an Active Duty Air Force Colonel with 22 years of service. “It’s been a whirlwind,” Mike says. “My plan was to do four years and then get out and get an engineering job. I fell in love as soon as I got on Active Duty.” Mike’s career has taken him all over the country and overseas for deployments in Turkey, Korea, and Saudi Arabia. Currently, he has about 1,800 people working under him, taking care of the third largest base in the Air Force. “As officers, we’re entrusted with our nation’s children and it’s our job to help develop and grow them,” Mike says. Looking ahead, Michael is drawn to a second career in financial services and wants to open his own firm, focusing on the financial needs of military families. “It’s what I like to do in my free time,” he says. “I really enjoy doing my own planning, and friends and family come to me for advice frequently.” Upon his retirement from the Air Force, Mike’s pension will give his family the security necessary to start a planning a career without worrying about making ends meet. To build a strong foundation, Mike will be completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, which will give him all the skills to make his second career as successful as his first.
Delbert Jones (Falls Church, VA) grew up in Northern California wanting to be a pilot, and figured the Air Force was the best place for him. “If you want to fly, go where the airplanes are,” Del says. After completing the Air Force ROTC program, Del was assigned to Cheyenne Mountain AFB as a communications officer. After a short two-year wait, he found his way to flight school. Unfortunately, flight school did not go as planned and ended six months early for what the Air Force called, "lack of adaptability." Unable to fly, Del decided, “I’d take another career path in the Air Force and do it until it wasn’t fun anymore.” and found himself back in the communications career field. Twenty-one years of fun later, Del retired from the Air Force at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Upon his transition from Active Duty, Del started exploring an interest in financial services. He completed his MBA and MS in Strategic Leadership and recently passed the CFP® exam. Not ready to stop learning, Del is focused on completing the remaining courses for the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, which will round out his financial planning education and allow him to better assist his natural market of military families.
Caitlyn Kano (Las Vegas, NV) is the spouse of Andrew Kano, an Active Reserve Air Force Major and Naval Academy graduate, who started his military career in the Navy as a helicopter pilot, then spent 13 years flying Harrier jets for the Marine Corps. The Air Force then offered him a position as a pilot at Creech Air Force base.“It’s amazing.” Caitlyn says. “He’s home all the time and we actually get to see him!” A mom of four, Caitlyn began volunteering at the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society “Budgeting for Baby” program as a way to get out of the house a few hours a week, and found herself flourishing in the role. She applied for the FINRA fellowship and earned her Accredited Financial Counselor certification. Caitlyn is currently employed by AFSC/Magellan Federal as a Special Projects Coordinator and Financial Coach. Her contract is up next month, and Caitlyn wants to focus on building her skillset, saying, “This will be the perfect time to jump into some professional growth.” She will be completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, which will allow her to address the “whole life” of her clients. “I want to get my clients past the fundamentals and moving into growing their finances,” Caitlyn says.
Hector Ortiz (Mohnton, PA) enlisted in the Army in 2011 and has served for eight years, currently at the rank of Sergeant. During his time in the Army, he achieved his goal of becoming an Apache and Blackhawk helicopter crew chief and is ready to set his sights on what’s next. “Service and wanting to give back to the country are things that always appealed to me,” Hector says. “Now I’m at a point where I’ll be closing out one chapter and writing the next.” Hector was introduced to the financial services profession by a friend, saying, “Once I looked into it, I was obsessed and I wanted to learn more.” In June of 2017, Hector earned his life insurance license, and has gone on to earn the Series 6, 63, 26, 65, and just passed the Series 7 exam this past Christmas. “I couldn’t be happier,” Hector says of his new career. “I get to connect with people, talk to them about their life’s dreams, and be a part of that process with them.” A voracious learner and reader (he has read over 110 books in the past two years!), Hector’s next step for his career development is to complete the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation and sit for the CFP® exam. “My personal growth will continue until the day I pass,” says Hector.
Ron Scheller (Bend, OR) served in the U.S. Navy for 21 years both on active duty and in the reserves, attaining the rank of Commander. He served on the Fast Frigate USS Ramsey and ammunition ship USS Flint. The son of a Wisconsin cookie salesman, he is now working in the financial services industry in Oregon. He says, "A big part of my life has been serving others." He plans to build on the expertise gained in his Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) and CFP® education by completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program.