FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellow Profiles
“With education comes confidence. The fellowship program has given me that.”
Growing up on the West Coast, Renee Jaffer never imagined that she would become a military spouse. She met and married her husband before she turned 25. He joined the Navy five days after their wedding. Twenty-three years and three children later, Renee and her family are living in Okinawa, Japan, where her husband has been stationed since 2000.
After graduating from Western Oregon State University in 1986, Renee settled into the Navy lifestyle and focused on raising her three children. Renee has been a lifelong volunteer, lending her time to her children’s schools, community arts associations and military spouse clubs. She found the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) early in her husband’s military career—and it turned out to be a great fit for her volunteer interests. Renee stayed involved with the organization through various Permanent Change of Station moves—from Pensacola, Florida, to California, and then from Guam to Japan.
A self described “penny pincher,” Renee really developed an interest in financial education while volunteering at NMCRS. Renee said that she was never really a “numbers person” but she has always been a “money person.” Renee always conservatively managed the family’s finances and prided herself on saving. Renee learned about the Military Spouse Fellowship Program, offered by the FINRA Investor Education Program, from her boss at NMCRS in Japan. Renee applied to the highly competitive program and was accepted into a class of only 200 fellows. She was the only person from NMCRS Okinawa accepted into her fellowship class.
The fellowship curriculum comprised volunteer hours and participation in Webinar classes held over the Internet. Renee participated in Webinar sessions with fellows from all over the world. Although Renee was the only Okinawa-based fellow, through the program she connected with fellows stationed at bases in Europe, developing a network that spanned several countries. Renee continued volunteering at NMCRS during the fellowship and earned her volunteer credit while working there. An avid kayaker, Renee took the Webinar sessions at 4 a.m., working the fellowship program requirements around her life and outside interests.
After completing the fellowship, Renee accepted a position at NMCRS. She truly loves working with servicemembers and their families at NMCRS, and has been able to draw from her fellowship experience in both her personal and professional life. She said that the fellowship empowered her and gave her the confidence to take calculated financial risks. She now feels comfortable and empowered to manipulate her finances in new ways.
Renee is looking forward to finding new opportunities in financial education after her husband retires from the military. She said the fellowship has given her a solid base and a fabulous starting point.
Renee and her family will continue to live in Japan until her husband completes his posting in 2010.