September 2018 Scholarship Recipients
Wendy Adam (Fayetteville, NC) is the wife of an Active Duty Army Sergeant First Class who has plans to retire in the next few years. A self-described “army brat,” Wendy has spent her life around the military community. “It’s kind of its own society,” Wendy says. “Civilians don’t understand the military side; military doesn’t understand the civilian side.” She is the owner of her own financial coaching business, Journey Services, and is passionate about financial education for our nation’s military community, saying, “Financial education is not taught. We have these soldiers coming in; some have never been away from mom and dad and they have never been taught how to handle their money. My goal is to help these people.” After completing Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, Wendy was eager to learn more. She plans to complete the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program in order to build her skillset and better serve her clients. “Everyone has their own story and I love to listen to and learn about people. I put a little bit of myself in everyone I help.”
Nancy Beacham (Mesquite, TX) calls her experience as a military spouse “unforgettable.” Her husband served in the Army for four years during the Gulf War and Desert Storm, and they spent two years living in Germany. “We were there when the wall came down in Berlin,” she says. “It was just a unique experience. Upon her return to the states, she worked as a bank officer at Chase, but her schedule did not align with her small children’s school hours. She had a brief career as a public school teacher, but returned to finance once her children grew up. “I really enjoyed that experience, but my heart has always been in the financial industry,” she says. Now with AXA, Nancy’s client base is mostly educators, and she is focused on getting her clients to a better place financially. “I look at my parents, who worked very hard,” Nancy says. “My father worked for a company for 25 years, not knowing he did not have any type of retirement. My mother was a teacher for 31 years. She did not know anything about 403(b)s or retirement accounts. We lived in a small town and there was not a lot of financial education. Things like that pushed me to this industry.” Nancy will be completing the Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) program, which will allow her to better care for her clients’ long-term insurance needs.
Marcos Gonzalez (El Paso, TX) is a retired Army Sergeant First Class who enlisted in 1993 and retired 23 years later in 2016 as an Operations Sergeant. During his time in the Army, he deployed four times to Afghanistan and Iraq and earned two Bronze Stars. Marcos’ transition from Active Duty was a tough one. “It was hard for me to figure out what I wanted to be once I grew up,” he says. While at a job fair, he spoke with a representative from New York Life, and “he painted a good picture of the financial services profession. I started working for them – I loved it! And the more I did it, the more I loved it.” Marcos’ main market is the local veteran and military populations in his community, and he wants to earn his CFP® designation to make himself even more marketable. “The military is a small community and it’s built on trust.” Marcos says. “Having a CFP® shows my clients that I’ve taken the time to invest in my own education. It helps build my trustworthiness.” Marcos will complete the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation, which will allow him to sit for the CFP® exam.
Aaron Jones (Powder Springs, GA) enlisted in the Army as a way to pay for his college education, but he also credits his father and brother as inspiration. “My brother was an Army ranger from 1999-2004; that was really attractive to me. He came back and had an entirely different demeanor.” Stationed at Ft. Bragg, Aaron was a military police officer and later transitioned to Airborne school. After September 11th, Aaron was sent to the Pentagon for a year, and then later deployed to Afghanistan. Upon his transition in 2003, Aaron started working on his education. He completed his undergraduate degree in Psychology, and earned the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) and Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) designations. He joined New York Life in 2011, and in 2013 was promoted to a Development Manager role, which allows him to train new hires on client acquisition. He is setting his sights on the Chartered Leadership Fellow® (CLF®) designation next, which will help further develop his leadership skills. “I’m genuinely interested in learning more about how people think so that I can understand myself better. I want to become more in tune with styles of communication and behavior.”
Michael Silva (Olathe, KS) is an Active Reserve Army Brigadier General with over 30 years of service. A Ranger and graduate of West Point, Michael has had a varied and impressive career that includes time in field artillery and the Army Corps of Engineers. Before transitioning to the reserves, Michael was the budget officer in the Comptroller’s office of the 82nd Airborne. “When I tendered my resignation, they asked me not to leave,” Michael said. He chose to transition to the reserves so he could spend more time with his family. While in the reserves, he earned his MBA degree from Clemson University. Michael has worked in the Pentagon in the Army budget office, and later served as VP of a contracting company. “I’ve always been financially oriented,” Michael says. “I’m on a lifelong quest to learn as much as I can.” To that end, he will be appending his Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) education by completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program and will eventually sit for the CFP® exam. This education will help him to continue serving others. “I’m at a stage in my career,” Michael says, “where I care more about helping people make good decisions than I do about compensation. When I can help somebody position themselves to make the right financial decisions, it’s so rewarding for me.”
Nikolas “Cody” Synder
Nikolas “Cody” Synder (Lakewood, IL) comes from a long history of Naval service. “If I was going to go into the military, the Navy was where I was going to go.” Cody enlisted in 2011 and served for four years in an unconventional setup – “I think I was on a ship for 25 minutes the four years I was in the Navy. I was working in IT in the Navy, stationed at an Army Base, working for the Air Force.” He says that his experience was more than worthwhile. “I was fortunate to have a vast career in the short time I was in the military,” Cody says. “I got to experience things that kids from a small town would never experience, and I got to meet a lot of great people.” Now, Cody is looking to foster a lifelong interest in financial services. “It really makes sense to me and fascinates me,” he says. To that end, he will be completing the CFP® curriculum and will sit for the certification exam.
Juan “Manuel” Villegas
Juan “Manuel” Villegas (La Junta, CO) enlisted in the Army as an Infantryman during his junior year in high school and says that his service has broadened his perspective and helped him mature. “It’s showed me that I can do a lot more than I think I can.” One of his first active duty positions in the Army was working in recruiting and retention. “I liked talking to people and telling them, ‘this is a way to pay for your education, but you can also improve yourself.’” Currently on reserve duty, Juan is working with a general agent and getting his feet wet in the financial services profession. Among his many career goals, Juan plans on earning as many designations as he can. “Getting a designation means that you took the time to educate yourself to serve your clients better,” Juan says. He will be starting out with the Financial Services Certified Professional® (FSCP®) program, which will provide him with all of the necessary survival skills to get through these first few years. “I’m going to try for this scholarship and if I don’t get it, I’m still going to find a way to pay for it because I think it’s important. I need to have credentials under my belt.”
Jennifer Wilson (Montgomery, TX) says that her time in the Army “taught me a lot and made me a much stronger person.” She spent her Army career in the desert. “I was stationed in El Paso and then sent to Iraq for 8 months; I didn’t go anywhere fun, but a lot of my unit got home safely,” she says. When she returned home, she spent ten years working in nursing. Her interest in financial services was piqued a year ago after a friend passed away from breast cancer. “She only had a small life insurance policy, and watching her family go through everything made me think. I have four kids, and I didn’t have anything in place.” Jennifer reached out to a friend who was with MassMutual to get her own policy set up, and she found the process interesting enough to make a career change. “I’m still taking care of patients and people, but in a different aspect.” Jen will be completing the Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program, and later has her sights set on completing the Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (ChSNC®) program as well.