By Army Staff Sgt. Todd Pouliot
Task Force Falcon
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, March 15, 2011 - At age 19, a Montego Bay, Jamaica, native left his homeland for New York City in search of expanded opportunities.
"Seeing [how much money] I made, I looked around the office and saw older workers doing the same thing I was doing," Army Spc. Ricaud Brown said. "That's when I knew I needed to go to college."
Brown has earned a master's degree in business administration and secured a position with a financial firm upon completion of his Army obligation in a few months. Several of Brown's fellow soldiers, inspired by his accomplishments, have pursued their own higher-education goals.
"At first I wanted to get a degree in business management," Brown recalled. "I took an investment class, and I was learning about the stock market. That's when I decided to change my major to finance."
A few months after graduating from the State University of New York with a Bachelor of Science degree in finance in 2006, Brown joined the Army to pay off student loans. He has worked as a human resources specialist with the 10th Mountain Division's 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Falcon, since 2007, having stayed at Fort Drum, N.Y., for his whole enlistment, except when he's been deployed.
Not satisfied with his bachelor's degree, Brown began working toward his master's degree in business administration. He took six classes while serving in Iraq.
"Those were the toughest times in my life," he said. "I was working so many hours."
But his leaders, he added, saw to it that he completed what he'd started. Brown said their desire to see him succeed and reach his goals pushed him through those difficult times, noting that Army Staff Sgt. Linda Kremblas made sure he had time to study.
"She would stay on me like a mom," he said. "She would say, 'Get your work done in six hours. You'll have the remaining six hours to study.'"
Army Sgt. Vernon Redd, another Task Force Falcon human resources noncommissioned officer, also was committed to Brown reaching his educational goals.
"It was important for me for two reasons: for himself, and for opening the door for other soldiers," Redd said. "There were six to seven soldiers who had no previous interest who are furthering their education now."
Brown earned his MBA through Columbia College between his Iraqi deployment and his current deployment to Afghanistan. In a few months, his Army obligation will be up, and he will be leaving Afghanistan to return to civilian life. He has a job lined up as portfolio manager with an investment firm in Miami, he said, and he intends to continue his education.
"I'm going to pursue my doctorate in finance in September with the GI Bill," he said. "My future goal is to get a senior-level management position in an investment firm. I might want to teach at a college in the future. I'm driven to learn everything I can and earn a lot of money as well."
In the meantime, Brown said, he always is interested in teaching others how to invest their money.
"I hate seeing soldiers have all these opportunities and not take advantage of it," he said. "I convinced a fellow soldier to pursue a business degree; he just got into the No. 1 business school in Florida. I just received an e-mail from him thanking me for pushing him."
NATO International Security Assistance Force