Commander Sean McConnon first heard about the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society during the Active Duty Fund Drive. “I gave $10 a month—something small—but the fund drive started me thinking more about what the Society does and I thought it would be a perfect way for me to volunteer,” he explained.
For the past year, McConnon volunteered at the NMCRS MCRD San Diego office, as a client services assistant and communications contributor. He frequently conducted command briefs for Sailors and Marines to educate them about smart financial management. “He has gone above and beyond since he arrived,” said former NMCRS MCRD Director Arlette Mendoza.
While stationed in San Diego, McConnon worked in a support command doing research and development to develop cybersecurity capability for the Navy. “On Fridays there aren’t a lot of meetings and that’s when I usually volunteer,” he said.
McConnon gave one or two presentations each month to various active duty audiences, including submarine commands, “A” school students, USMC recruiters, senior Marines, commanders, and other members of the broader Navy community. McConnon enjoys public speaking and teaching, and he combines those with his love of the Navy when he volunteers. “In my brief I always start with why personal financial health matters. I show them they could be millionaires, but life gets in the way sometimes. A car will break down or there’s a death in the family. How do you stay on track? That’s what people want to know. I get people interested and they ask questions. Friends have told me I should be a financial advisor. Because I like to teach, I can break down the elements of finance, so people can understand.”
“I really enjoy helping people,” McConnon said, “especially as an advisor or teacher.” He plans to teach math or science in middle school after he retires from active duty. In addition to volunteering for the Society, McConnon has volunteered in schools near his duty stations.
McConnon recently PCS’d to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD to teach electrical engineering with a focus on cybersecurity. He plans to volunteer with NMCRS Annapolis when he gets settled. McConnon graduated from the Academy in 2002 with a degree in physics.
Teaching Sailors and Marines about personal finance hits home for McConnon because of his own experience. “I grew up lower middle class,” he said. “My Dad was unemployed for a few years when I was a teenager. Money was something we always paid attention to. We weren’t poor, but I am very sensitive to the impact of not having money. I tell young Sailors that I made mistakes when I was starting out, but then I made smarter decisions. I can bring the mistakes I made in the real world into the classroom and leverage that experience.”
“My story turned out pretty well, and I want to do what I can to make the same happen for other people in the Navy and Marine Corps.”
By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso