At 17, Ben Cloud is ready to pursue a career in finance - with a little jazz music thrown in to the mix.

Cloud, the son of Randy and Marcia Cloud, plans to pursue a finance degree at the University of Arkansas, Faytetteville, with his eyes on obtaining a joint Master's of Business Administration and law degree. 

He believes the combination of those degrees are most appealing, and will open up a wide range of careers in his future. He may also pursue a minor in physics, because he really enjoys the subject.

But the three-time All State Jazz Guitarist and three time honoree from the Oklahoma Band Master's Association, is not ready to put his music away.

He plans to be part of the Jazz Band at the University of Arkansas, and be a working musician through college - "so it can always be for fun."

In the last two years, in addition to his studies at both Grove High School and at Northeast Technology in Afton, Cloud has been been apart of the Tulsa-based student jazz band T-Town Jazz Sound.  

That band, which meant long nights of driving and practice each Tuesday, allowed him to go to the Charles Mingus High School Competition and Festival, where the group placed in the top three in the nation for two years in a row.

He also earned a spot in the Northwest Arkansas Jazz All-Stars Youth Ensemble this past year. 

In addition to his music honors, Cloud is also a National Merit Finalist, something he believes he accomplished by the advanced classes he took at both Grove High School and NTC in Afton.

He said the pre-engineering program in Afton helped him determine, while he loved physics, he would rather pursue a career in finance. 

He said his favorite moment in high school center around attending the Charles Mingus High School Competition and Festival in New York, where he was able to not only see the Charles Mingus Combo perform, but also the Charles Mingus Big Band at the Jazz Standard. 

Jazz music, he said, has allowed him to meet new people and develop some significant friendships.

"Music in general is just fun for me to play," Cloud said. "I have grown to have a special passion for jazz."

Between his earnings as a National Merit Finalist, along with his jazz scholarship and his fellowship at the UofA, Cloud said he will be able to purse his undergraduate degree without financial worry.