Tiffany Monaco is a military-affiliated grad student, currently enrolled in the Master’s program in International Education Leadership.
1. What is the biggest difference you’ve noticed in transitioning from military life to civilian life?
People have a deliberate way of speaking in the military. Officers and NCOs don’t like to risk being misunderstood so everyone is very direct. When I first transitioned to civilian life, I was a bit shocked at how much goes unsaid, or is simply implied. Although, at this point I am fully ‘civilianized,’ I sometimes feel foreign when it comes to my lack of ability to “beat around the bush.”
2. What is something you wish you had known before moving here?
I wish I knew that post-baccalaureate study was a thing! There are so many great grad programs out there, and I felt intimidated by them because I didn’t feel as though I had the required academic background. If I could go back in time, I would have done some distance post-baccalaureate studies while I was still in the army. That’s not really helpful to veterans who are entering now though, so I will add that most programs don’t advertise how flexible they can be. My program is advertised as a full-time program, but some people do it part time while holding down a full-time job. If you’re accepted to a program, and you need some flexibility, just talk with your advisor, they’re usually very understanding.
3. What is an important lesson that you learned in the military that has helped you in grad school?
Priorities of work. That feels so cheesy to say, but my time is so limited. I like to get everything possible done during the day because that’s when my kids are in preschool. This includes not only my school-work, but also exercise, grocery shopping, answering emails, etc. I don’t formally schedule my days out; but when I wake up, I generally think about my day, and the things I need to get done, with specific items in mind that are the lowest priority. This has helped me stay focused, and enabled me to complete my grad school course load without sacrificing family time when my children are home.
4. What made you choose UNC/NC when deciding on a program/place to study?
My husband and I got out of the Army at the same time. Our son was four months old, and my husband had applied to PhD programs in geology. I knew I wanted to take at least a year off, so we chose to move to the school with the best geology program (UNC!). We live in Carrboro, and it has been really great. Being here was also beneficial to me when I started looking into graduate programs as well because there is such a high concentration of good schools with great programs in the area.