BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - At the age of 19, a Montego Bay, Jamaica, native left his homeland for New York City in search of expanded opportunities, but after a few years of working, he said he realized he wasn't satisfied with the path his work-life was heading.

"Seeing (how much money) I made, I looked around the office and saw older workers doing the same thing I was doing," said Spc. Ricaud Brown. "That's when I knew I needed to go to college."

Brown's pursuit of higher education has resulted in him earning a master of business administration degree and a position with a financial firm upon completion of his Army obligation in a few months. Additionally, several Soldiers who were inspired by Brown's accomplishments 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 College at Old Westbury on Long Island in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree in finance, Brown joined the Army to pay off student loans.

Brown has worked as a human resources specialist with 10th Combat Aviation Brigade / Task Force Falcon since 2007, having stayed at Fort Drum his entire Army career.

Not satisfied with his bachelor's degree, Brown began working toward his MBA. A deployment to Iraq did not keep him from moving toward that goal; 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 it was his leaders who saw to it that he completed what he had started.

Brown said their apparent desire to see him succeed and reach his goals pushed him through those difficult times. He said Staff Sgt. Linda Kremblas would make 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.'"

Sgt. Vernon Redd, another TF 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 fulfilled and he will leave Afghanistan to return to civilian life. He has a job lined up as portfolio manager with an investment firm in Miami, and he intends to continue further education.

"I'm going to pursue my doctorate in finance in September with the G.I. 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," Brown added.

He said he is always 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."