Spotlight on Students
Junior Aaron Witherspoon Focuses on Helping Peers Manage Money
While walking up and down Rollins Street at the annual Midnight BBQ, then-freshman Aaron Witherspoon noticed two classmates of his. He hadn’t made any friends yet, and he was determined to change that.
"I kind of stepped outside of my comfort zone and introduced myself to just take that first step," Witherspoon says. "We’ve been close ever since."
The willingness to leave his comfort zone didn’t end there.
Later that year, Witherspoon joined the Mizzou’s Black Men’s Initiative. Because of his passion for Mizzou, he also joined Alumni Association Student Board and United Ambassadors. Finally, he joined the fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha.
Alpha Phi Alpha in particular gave Witherspoon the support he needed to excel on campus.
“They helped me really build my confidence and really show me that I can do anything on the university that I put my mind and heart into,” Witherspoon said. “The sky is the limit and I can do anything.”
Witherspoon is a Personal Financial Planning major in the College of Human Environmental Sciences. At age 16, he bought his first share of stock and has been increasing his financial knowledge ever since. Witherspoon puts his own money at risk while investing. He believes in taking chances in order to improve himself.
"You’re not going to grow unless you’re uncomfortable," Witherspoon says.
Witherspoon gives advice to his friends about successfully managing their finances and is always looking to lend a helping hand.
"That’s something that I try to stress a lot about is finances," Witherspoon says. "Make sure you guys are saving your money and budgeting."
Witherspoon points out that "you’ll probably be close to a millionaire" by age 50 if you consistently contribute money to an individual retirement account.
Witherspoon’s job has given him even more experience and knowledge to share with his peers. He works at Commerce Bank and shadows a portfolio manager. Witherspoon also takes a class that requires him to do taxes through the university’s free tax-preparation clinic.
That experience gave him the confidence to prepare his parents’ taxes earlier this year.
"They were completely shocked that I knew how to do everything," Witherspoon says. "They just completely trusted me."
Witherspoon’s dad, who lives in St. Louis, sent him a message the next day saying, "Son, I can’t believe you really did our taxes." His dad also expressed interest in having Witherspoon help the family with investing once he graduates.
"That’s the long-term goal for my family," Witherspoon says. "Eventually when I get out I want to make sure that my family is pretty good."
Cameron Harris is a senior Personal Financial Planning student from the south suburbs of Chicago. He interned with TRB & Associates, a local tax and bookkeeping firm in Fall 2018, and has been continuously employed by MU Campus Dining Services (CDS) since his freshmen year. Cameron received the 2018 Student Employee Scholarship from CDS, an honor based on his reliability, quality of work, initiative, teamwork, and contribution to his employer. Cameron’s interest in personal financial planning grew after realizing the corporate approach to finance was not the best fit for him. His interest deepened upon realizing the lack of financial knowledge in the black community. With this new passion for educating the underrepresented communities, Cameron is involved with MOCHA (Men of Color, Honor and Ambition) and the Mizzou Financial Planning Association. He has also served as a volunteer tax preparer through the Office for Financial Success VITA program. Cameron looks forward to taking the knowledge gained in his Personal Financial Planning degree to help underserved communities improve their financial well-being. He hopes to inspire those communities to improve financial knowledge and accumulate assets, as well as to teach the importance of planning, saving, investing, and creating a legacy for generations to come.
Brandon Easley, a senior PFP student from St. Louis, earned his Associate’s degree from St. Charles Community College before continuing his education at Mizzou. He looks forward to a career of building relationships with clients for whom he can help make a difference in their family wellbeing. An Eagle Scout, Brandon is committed to helping others, evidenced by his Eagle Scout project in which he led a team to build a series of picnic tables and improve landscaping features for his high school. Brandon spent the past four summers as a camp counselor for Philmont Scout Ranch, a Boy Scouts of America camp in northern New Mexico. He was responsible for guiding crews through hikes and teaching campers the skills necessary to be successful. He is SCUBA and Wilderness First Responder certified. Brandon continues to serve others as Secretary of Mizzou Financial Planning Association and Ambassador to the College of Human Environmental Sciences for the Department of Personal Financial Planning.
Elizaveta Korshunova was selected as the Student Manager of the Office for Financial Success (OFS) for the 2018-2019 academic year. Originally from Russia, Liza moved to the United States in 2013 where she completed high school in the Kansas City, MO. She is a senior majoring in Personal Financial Planning and will also complete minors in Business and French. Liza is a high achieving student who is a member of the French honor society, Pi Delta Phi. She studied abroad through an internship program in Marseille, France during summer 2018. While in school, Liza works as a teller at Central Bank of Boone County and a volunteer at the Family Impact Center. Marco Pantoja, former OFS Assistant Director who selected Liza as this year’s OFS Student Manager, enjoyed the opportunity to work with her at the Family Impact Center. He says, "She is a hardworking, capable, and professional person who I believe will serve the OFS well as she progresses towards graduation."
Liza Korshunova in Paris during her 2018 summer study abroad experience.
Jimmy Merdian, a native of Kansas City, MO, is a senior in the Department of Personal Financial Planning. He has enjoyed many opportunities to become involved in the Department and to share his skills and passion as for helping others with developing financial security. His volunteerism with the Office for Financial Success and role as President of the Mizzou student chapter of Financial Planning Association have afforded Jimmy the opportunity to grow as a leader and to acquire knowledge and learn expectations for his future in the financial planning industry. As a member of FPA, Jimmy attended the 2017 FPA Annual Conference in Nashville, TN, an opportunity that has opened doors by expanding his professional network.
Jimmy states, "My desire to pursue a degree in financial planning stems from my empathetic and compassionate characteristics and a desire to make a positive impact on other individuals lives with my acquired skill set. The information gained from this degree allows you to not only assist others, but gives you information to change your own personal life for the better."
In his spare time, Jimmy enjoys music, sports, camping, and the outdoors. Jimmy will be completing an internship in this summer with American Century Investments, after which he will graduate and pursue his financial planning career in the Kansas City area.
Linsey Winkler, a junior Personal Financial Planning major, is an academic advising assistant for Dr. Starla Ivey and works part-time at a local bank. Linsey began Mizzou as a mechanical engineering major but working at the bank quickly made her realize that a career in financial services is where she wanted to be. She is the 2018 recipient of the Mid Missouri Estate Planning Council’s $1,000 scholarship. Linsey’s favorite part of the Personal Financial Planning program is the faculty and the passion they show for the field. She has taken time to get to know each of her professors and appreciates their willingness to take the time to make sure each student understands the material and succeeds inside and outside the classroom. In her spare time, Linsey enjoys playing softball and kickball and is a volunteer cheerleading coach at Benton Elementary School. Linsey will be spending the summer in Greensboro, NC, in an intern with Triad Financial Advisors working with PFP alumna, Lauren Bauer, CFP®.
Dalisha D. Herring, MBA, CFP®, is a doctoral student in the Department of Personal Financial Planning at the University of Missouri. She earned her Master of Business Administration degree from Florida State University and a Bachelor of Science degree from The University of Alabama in Consumer Sciences with an emphasis in Family Financial Planning and Counseling and minors in Business and Marketing. Ms. Herring received the $5,000 Arthur N. Caple Foundation Scholarship at the 2017 National Association of Government Defined Contribution Plan Administrators annual conference, the 2017 Jean W. Cronan Graduate Scholarship from the University of Missouri, and the 2015 American Council on Consumer Interests Student Conference Scholarship, in addition to other presentation travel grant awards during her tenure at MU. She is a previous recipient of other scholarships from the Florida Banker’s Education Foundation, the Delta Zeta Foundation, and The University of Alabama for her master’s and undergraduate degree studies, and she has been recognized for her volunteer work with Delta Zeta Sorority and Florida State University Panhellenic Association.
A graduate of the Florida Bankers Association’s Florida Graduate Trust School, Ms. Herring has more than a decade of industry experience in trust and estate administration, retirement plan wholesaling, and personal financial planning practice. She has taught several courses in the personal financial planning curriculum and enjoys working with the college-age group of students. Her research interests include financial well-being and retirement preparedness of veterans, women, and Generation X. On campus, Ms. Herring is the Department of Personal Financial Planning’s representative to Graduate Professional Council (GPC), President of Human Environmental Sciences Doctoral Student Association (HESDSA), the HESDSA liaison to the College of Human Environmental Sciences Administrative Staff Council, and the GPC liaison to the MU Parking and Transportation Committee. Professionally, she is a member of Mid-Missouri Estate Planning Council, Financial Planning Association of Greater St. Louis, American Council on Consumer Interests, and Academy of Financial Services. She is actively involved in the Columbia community as President of the Columbia/Mid-Missouri Alumnae Chapter of Delta Zeta Sorority and as a member of Memorial Baptist Church where she sings in the choir, plays percussion with the worship team and orchestra, and is co-chair of the women’s ministry team. Ms. Herring is passionate about helping others with encouragement and the tools to be their best selves and to be financially independent. Upon graduation, she plans to pursue a career in academia where she can focus efforts on educating the next generation of financial planners. Ms. Herring's CV can be found here.
Grant Fry, a senior from Jerseyville, IL, is a Personal Financial Planning student expecting to graduate in December 2018. Grant is passionate about learning all he can about the financial planning field and how planning can help people succeed with their goals. He completed an internship last summer with Edward Jones in Columbia, MO and will intern with Bank of America in Seattle, WA, this summer. Grant enjoys watching and playing sports in his spare time, as well as traveling and viewing old movies.
Matthew Tomlin, a senior Personal Financial Planning student from Kansas City, Missouri, currently serves as Student Manager for the Office for Financial Success. In this role, he schedules and administer financial counseling and coaching appointments, trains new coaches, and provides educational workshops on various financial topics to improve the financial well-being of the campus community. Matthew is also the Speaker Coordinator for Mizzou’s Financial Planning Association and is a teaching assistant for the Financial Counseling class. He recollects his favorite Mizzou experience as having the opportunity to attend the 2017 FPA Annual Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. This is the largest annual financial planning conferences for educators and practitioners where Matthew had the opportunity to network with CFP® professionals. He is also looking forward to attending TD Ameritrade’s National LINC 2018 Conference in Orlando, Florida. After graduation, Matthew plans to study for the CFP® certification exam while working at American Century Investments as an Investment Representative and is excited to begin a career in which he can help people with their personal financial well-being.
Erin Bowman is graduating in May 2018 with a major in Personal Financial Planning and a minor in Business. Throughout her three years in the Department, she has been President and Vice President of Mizzou’s Financial Planning Association student chapter. Erin served as HES Ambassador for two years providing tours for potential students and representing the College on out-of-town college days. Currently, Erin is a teaching assistant for Introduction to Human Environmental Sciences and is a member of Chi Omega Fraternity. The people in the college who have influenced her the most have been the supportive faculty who test students understanding of financial planning applications and valuable practices. Erin’s motivation for studying financial planning stems from her interest in building relationships with people to help them achieve their financial goals.
This past summer, Erin had an opportunity to intern at the Ameriprise Financial Headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She was part of the Advisor Business Development Group and worked on projects such as researching online software, meeting with senior leaders/executives, creating case studies and webinars for advisor use, and preparing financial reports for advisor focus groups. She describes her experience at Ameriprise as educational and unforgettable.
Anthony Wight is from Chesterfield, Missouri and is majoring in Personal Financial Planning. He plans to graduate in Summer 2018. Anthony represents the department as a HES Ambassador for the College of Human Environmental Sciences. He also serves as secretary to the Financial Planning Association and is a Financial Coach in the Office for Financial Success. He is a member of the Insurance Association as well as Sigma Alpha Epsilon. One of his favorite experiences since coming to Mizzou, he says, "was being able to go into class the first days and not only enjoying and finding the practicality in what I was doing, but also feeling comfortable and wanting to participate and speak with professors, which was a new feeling for me." Anthony says his strengths lie with "My overall friendly personality and hard work ethic. If I’m passionate about something I am very good about channeling that into my work." Anthony plans to become a financial planner and help people reach their financial goals.