This time of year, when applications for the FINRA Investor Education Foundation’s Military Spouse Fellowship open, I often reflect on my career and how earning this designation has helped me become the professional I am today.
When I applied for the FINRA Military Spouse Fellowship to become an Accredited Financial Counselor®, I never dreamt I would earn the designation while working full time, parenting a two-year old through combat tours, and enduring another military move. But, that’s the way my FINRA Fellowship went during the years of 2012-2013.
I completed the program and necessary internship hours in what I later found out was “record time” for Fellows, which spoke to both the flexibility of the program itself, and probably my sheer military spouse determination to accomplish something big during yet another round of deployments.
While this was all very gratifying, what’s been most rewarding is stepping through some of the doors opening for me because I’m an AFC. Since obtaining my certification, I’ve served as the Director for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society’s Camp Pendleton offices. There, I lead a team of both paid and volunteer staff as we sought to make a difference in the financial health of service members and families throughout the state of California. I’ve also worked as an On-Demand Personal Financial Counselor educating military families in multiple states about how to make wiser financial choices. I volunteered as a Financial Educator for Army Family Readiness and Survivor Outreach Services, which helps Soldiers, their families, and families of the fallen strengthen their financial foundations. And I created, launched, and managed a financial education program for incarcerated military members serving sentences in the Joint Regional Correctional Facility (JRCF) and United States Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) in Ft. Leavenworth, KS. Known to most of us as simply “Leavenworth.”
The AFC has taken me from sunshine and sand to prison bars and safety procedures, and it’s been an incredible journey every step of the way. Increasing the financial readiness of today’s forces means enhancing our family readiness, too, and as an AFC and military spouse FINRA Fellow, saying I’ve had a small hand in that is something in which I take great pride. Whether it’s been behind bars or teaching classes on the beach, my AFC is well-traveled and absolutely well-utilized as we work to make a difference once service member and family at a time.
When I was on the brink of giving up on some of my own career dreams, the AFC presented opportunities I never dreamt I’d have and opened doors I thought were closed to military spouses. It’s been a great ride so far, and I can’t wait to see where my AFC takes me next and who I might be able to help along the way.
If you’re interested in applying for the FINRA Military Spouse Fellowship, now’s the perfect time to apply!