By: Nicole Rollins, recent graduate, BS in Food and Nutrition
Being a military spouse is hard. It often means putting your dreams, your goals, your education and your career on hold for the military member you love. It isn’t that we can’t have our own dreams and goals, but there are many times the spouse’s involvement in the squadron or unit plays just as much of a role in rank advancements or getting desired assignments as the military member’s job performance. Spouses often end up volunteering for every spouse group and wing event. Military spouses often get so busy and overwhelmed with these duties that we don’t focus on our own education or careers.
I’ve spent the last six years of my life as a military spouse. I became a part of every spouse group possible, volunteered on the boards, and helped with every event in the squadron and on base. I perceived military spouse life as a supporting role for both my husband and his career. We also had children during this time because that seemed like the next step. I felt I was doing what I was supposed to do as a military spouse, but felt completely and totally empty. I was working in the gym, training and teaching group fitness, but I didn’t feel fulfilled. I loved my classes and my clients, but it wasn’t enough. I felt like it all took a backseat to my husband’s career. It was more important that he get the opportunities he wanted than for me to have a career of my own.
Pursuing this degree has given me a purpose. It’s important for me to attain this degree and begin a career as a Registered Dietician not only for a job but also for a chance to work in the area of my life’s passion, which is health and fitness. Shortly after starting classes, despite being so busy balancing school, family, work, and military life, a spark ignited within me. I am excited everyday to get up and do the things that are putting me one step closer to having my own career.
Starting this degree program has made my life busier, but it has made me a better wife and mom. Every day I am able to show my children how to manage many different roles in life while still making time for family and friends. I have become more focused and goal oriented. I am getting more done in less time. I know that my daily tasks are important to help me reach this higher purpose. It is important for me to show my family, and myself, that I do not have to put my life on hold waiting for the next deployment to be over or the next move to be complete.
It’s so important for military spouses to see themselves as more than just someone serving in a supporting role. We need to experience the passion that comes with having our own career. Bama By Distance has given me an opportunity to pursue a degree I would not have been able to otherwise. It was hard to find reputable schools because we move every few years. I grew up spending my summers in Tuscaloosa and fell in love with the school even then, so I was really excited when I learned that The University of Alabama offered an online food and nutrition program accredited by the ADA. I was finally able to say “Roll Tide" as a student.
Nicole Rollins graduated in May 2016, and was immediately accepted into a dietetic internship.