A Path Towards the AFC, New Opportunities, and Impacting the Military Community

Headshot of Virginia Imlah

Virginia Imlah, AFC® is a financial educator and counselor for military service members and their families. She became a FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellow in 2020 and earned her AFC in 2021. Read on to learn more about Virginia’s professional journey and the impact the Military Spouse Fellowship Program has had in her career! 

The FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship program provides military spouses the opportunity to earn the AFC® (Accredited Financial Counselor®) certification—while providing financial counseling and education to the military community.

AFCPE: What led you to a career in personal finance? And what inspires you to continue doing this work today?

Virginia: Several years ago, I began volunteering as a caseworker with the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society helping service members and their families during times of financial hardship. I then took on a position as Director with the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and continued to provide financial programs and services while working to complete my AFC certification. Serving the military community was extremely rewarding, and I wanted to be able to help people with their finances as a financial counselor. I enjoy seeing that moment when a person understands something for the first time or learns something new. I am inspired to continue this work because I want to equip people to make better financial decisions.

AFCPE: Tell us about your professional journey. How did you learn about the FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship, and what inspired you to pursue AFC certification?

Virginia: I first learned about the Fellowship when I was volunteering as a caseworker with the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. I applied for the Fellowship because I believed that pursuing the AFC certification would help me better serve clients and that it would generate new career opportunities in the future.

AFCPE: What did you enjoy most about the program? 

Virginia: I have enjoyed the connections that I have made and the relationships that I have built. I have met some wonderful people who helped me make it through the program and I am now trying to help others in return.

AFCPE: How have the opportunities from the Fellowship helped to shape your career?

Virginia: I believe that continually learning helps you grow and develop new skills. It also allows you to try new things. I have learned so much through the Fellowship and want to share what I have learned and help others. I now have both the skills and the opportunity to work in a field that helps military service members and their families with their finances as a personal financial counselor. 

AFCPE: Tell us about a project or initiative you are currently working on?

Virginia: I recently finished a project that I worked on with two AFC candidates. We developed a six-part financial course for teens and then taught the course together. I strongly believe that teens need access to financial literacy courses so that they will be better prepared for the financial decisions they will be making for the rest of their lives. One of my long-term goals is to partner with schools to develop and implement financial literacy programs for high school students.

AFCPE: What is the best way to connect with you (social links, etc.)? 

Connect with me on LinkedIn!

Virginia answers the Friday 5: 

My Why: I want to serve my community and make a positive difference in the lives of others.

My Favorite Quote: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

My Hero: My mom is my hero. She was my first teacher and has been an example to me of what it means to be an educator and lifelong learner. She finished college when I was in elementary school and earned her master’s degree when I was in high school. In her retirement years, she has continued to learn and to try new things. 

My Favorite Resource: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

My Best Advice: Never stop learning new things. 

  • For someone starting the journey to financial well-being: Define your goals and let your goals guide your actions. Take it one step at a time. Celebrate your successes along the way. 
  • For someone who is thinking about applying for the fellowship: Go for it! Don’t hesitate! You will learn so much and gain an amazing network of peers.

The 2022 FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship application deadline is May 2, 2022. 

If you are interested in applying, go HERE to learn more.

If you are connected with a military spouse or the military community, help us spread the word! We’ve created an easy TOOLKIT for you to use!

*The opinions and views expressed in this blog post belong to the individual(s) that have been interviewed and do not represent the views of AFCPE and its staff.

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