FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellow Profile - La Tawnya Belén
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La Tawnya Belén
"The backbone of our freedom rests on those who fight everyday so we all can have better lives. Supporting the military by helping them to build stronger financial futures is the least I can do."
To La Tawnya Belén, the military is home. A "military brat" from Charleston, South Carolina, she served in two branches of the military, is married to a military servicemember and helps military families navigate their finances. La Tawnya, an accredited financial counselor and a mortgage loan officer for a large credit union in Norfolk, Virginia, works one-on-one with military servicemembers and their spouses.
"The backbone of our freedom rests on those who fight everyday so we all can have better lives," La Tawnya said. "Supporting the military by helping them to build stronger financial futures is the least I can do."
La Tawnya’s personal financial savvy started early. Her father, a career military servicemember, taught her to avoid credit cards, spend money only when she had it and save money for a rainy day. Her father passed away while she was a student at the College of Charleston. She put off her undergraduate degree and enlisted in the Army, which paid her student loans and covered other college expenses. She would later earn a Bachelor of Science degree in management from the University of Phoenix and leave the Army to join the Navy Reserve.
Between her Army and Navy commitments, La Tawnya worked in the banking industry. Since leaving the military in 1999, she has worked for a debt negotiation firm and as a financial coordinator, sales support supervisor, accounts receivable supervisor and mortgage supervisor.
While searching online for scholarship opportunities for her daughter, La Tawnya learned about the FINRA Investor Education Foundation's Military Spouse Fellowship Program. She applied and was accepted in 2007. The interaction among spouse fellows—facilitated by interactive webinars and conference calls—and the abundance of tools and resources impressed her. She completed the program in 2008.
"The accreditation gives me the self-confidence and pride to know that I am conveying this important information in the right way, and that I'm working in the best interests of military servicemembers and their families," La Tawnya said.
The program also has reinforced her family's focus on saving, she said. La Tawnya is married to a Navy operations specialist chief. The couple have three children.
"I'm always figuring out what our money is doing for us," La Tawnya said. "And this fellowship has lit the fire to make me examine every financial decision and continue to be credit savvy."
Since earning her accreditation, La Tawnya has received her Master’s Degree in Management from the University of Phoenix. She also opened her own financial firm, which provides financial counseling, training and education to many military families and veterans to help them gain financial awareness so they may make informed decisions. She looks forward to continuing to build her business.