FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellow Profiles
"It is so hard for military spouses to have a good career path. Every time you move, you have to start all over…but with this accreditation, you’re pretty much guaranteed a job with decent pay and the satisfaction of touching peoples’ lives every day. I’m really grateful for this opportunity."
When Mikki Venekamp was a bank teller, she would occasionally see financially troubled families come through the doors. Their worries wore on them. Their bank accounts were dwindling. She knew they needed help, but there was little she could offer. That was when she decided to become a financial counselor.
"I knew that this was something I was passionate about," she said, "and I could give back to the military as well as our local community."
Venekamp heard about the FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship Program when she was volunteering at the Financial Readiness at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Venekamp’s bachelor's degree in business administration helped her move through the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education® curriculum quickly. While she learned many things thanks to her FINRA Foundation fellowship, she learned the most from the application process. Venekamp is a graduate of the 2010 class, but had been applying to the program since 2007.
The FINRA Foundation receives a large number of Fellowship applications a year, but far fewer military spouses are selected to receive the grants that pay for their accredited financial counselor training. Still, Venekamp kept trying.
"I really wanted the fellowship and I learned to not give up," she said. "If you follow your heart, and do the best that you can, eventually you will get what you want. These are the words I live by and the words I preach to my family, friends, and clients.” Besides wanting to help others, Venekamp is grateful for the portable skills the fellowship provided.
Besides wanting to help others, Venekamp is grateful for the portable skills the fellowship provided.
"It is so hard for military spouses to have a good career path. Every time you move, you have to start all over. But with this accreditation, you're pretty much guaranteed a job with decent pay. But what's most important is the satisfaction of touching peoples' lives every day," she said.
Venekamp currently lives with her husband, Sgt. Keith Venekamp, her daughter, Makaila and her son, Kolton in Omaha, Nebraska, where she volunteers to teach future soldiers at Omaha Army Recruiting Station. Previously she worked as a community educator at a nonprofit credit counseling service. In that role, Mikki developed curricula and conducted classes and workshops on budgeting, debt reduction, credit and loans for adults and youth in Omaha and the surrounding area. Previously, she and her husband lived in Lacey, Washington, where Mikki interned at the Fort Lewis Financial Readiness Program, and created and wrote financial education classes for military families.
"The Fellowship helped me to be more aware of personal finance situations, especially for those close to me like friends and family," she said. "I want to make sure that when they need help they can always come to me and ask for my advice."