Homework has more than one meaning for DeAnn Iman. The UW Tacoma senior is also a military spouse. Iman’s husband of nine years is in the Army, a profession where service members and their families pack up and move about every three years. Iman has become something of an expert in the process of relocation. “Before we move I spend a lot of time online researching schools, looking at houses or figuring out different commutes,” she said.
This commitment to detail extends to Iman’s academic career, a journey that began more than a decade ago in Colorado. Iman and her husband have a blended family that includes five children. The combination of kids and military life meant Iman had to be flexible in her approach to higher education. “I could often only take one or two classes at a time,” she said. “Wherever we go I’m always looking to see how my credits match up with what’s offered at a particular university and whether or not I can get a job in that field.”
Iman started college in Colorado, earned an associate’s degree in Hawaii then went to work as a paralegal. She continued her education in Oklahoma. While in Oklahoma she worked at an accounting firm. “I liked it,” she said. “Having these different experiences kind of forced me to leave my comfort zone and led me to new interests and passions.”
Iman transferred to UW Tacoma in the fall of 2017 to pursue a degree in accounting at the Milgard School of Business. She acclimated to campus by getting involved with the Accounting Student Association and is currently that organization’s president. She also serves as a board member with the Student Veterans at UW Tacoma (SVO).
This past September, Iman applied for and was accepted to attend the Student Veterans of America Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C.. The multi-day experience included student veterans from colleges and universities across the country. “I was the sole representative for military spouses,” said Iman. “I was the only one that didn’t have actual military experience which was a little intimidating but also inspiring because the spouse and dependent element is important to the organization and I was able to be a voice for those people.”
Iman got to tour Washington, D.C. as well as hear from speakers including Medal of Honor recipient Kyle White. “The entire experience was incredible,” said Iman. “We spent a lot of time identifying our own values and identifying our leadership style and seeing how that can be utilized to connect with others.”
Leadership seems like it would come easy to Iman. For years she’s had to juggle the demands of managing a household while working and going to school all the while knowing everything could change in a moment’s notice. “Structure and organization are critical,” she said. “Our family runs like a well-oiled machine.”
Even the most functional of machines still need a human touch which is why Iman and her husband work so hard to stay connected even when they’re miles apart. “We find ways to connect whether that’s with Skype or by leaving little messages throughout the house,” she said. “My husband will hide little notes and when I’m having a hard day he’ll tell me to check under the bed for a love note that he left me or for a gift he left for the kids.”
Iman graduates from UW Tacoma after the end of winter quarter. She plans to pursue her MBA at UW Tacoma which means she’ll still have a lot of homework to do. However, her husband is set to retire in a few years and the couple plan to stay in the area and set down roots. “We’ve talked about it and he is going to be the primary parent and I’ll get a chance to focus on my career,” said Iman. “I feel fortunate to have a spouse who is supportive and who recognizes the sacrifices I’ve made over the years to be supportive of him and his career.”
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or firstname.lastname@example.org