For Bonnie Conrad, trust is essential in her life as a military spouse and a vehicle for her career. “I like the saying, ‘Do it until you do it,'” she said.
But there’s nothing wrong with the way she focuses on her goals.
Marketing and its ability to create and inspire excite Conrad, who works in market research for a global consulting firm. She strives to show other military spouses how they too can learn how to reach their target audience through marketing without needing to rely on agencies and other outside creatives.
To realize this dream, she advances her studies. While homeschooling his two sons during the global pandemic, Conrad earned an associate’s degree. Then, as she was figuring out her next steps, the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree online with full scholarship came along.
She knew she had to apply.
Revolutionary access to online education
Earlier this month, Conrad became the 37th military spouse to receive a full scholarship to Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). SNHU partners with Operation Homefront, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving U.S. military families, several times a year to award scholarships to military spouses.
“Operation Homefront and SNHU share the belief that military families, who sacrifice so much on behalf of all Americans, should be celebrated,” said Jenny Valderas, Senior Director of Family Support Services at Operation Homefront. “Bonnie was thrilled to receive the SNHU scholarship and couldn’t wait to share the news with her family. This opportunity allows her to continue her studies and open the doors to what we know will be a bright future for her.
Conrad’s husband, who facilitates training details for his unit in the US Army, is proud of his wife as she begins her bachelor’s degree. “He’s always been my number one cheerleader in everything I try,” she said.
College doesn’t always seem feasible for military spouses, who take on the support role while their military performs their duties. “Our job as military spouses is to keep the household running (smoothly) so our soldiers can focus on their mission and not have to worry about what’s going on at home,” she said. Sometimes that means being the primary caregiver for their children. This may involve frequent moves across the country and around the world. It also often leads military spouses to put the needs of their family and country above their own goals.
“As spouses, we know that when our partners get orders, we get them too and eventually we will have to leave our friends, our jobs and our schools,” said Dr Kendra Thomas, military spouse and SNHU’s Senior Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) for HR Initiatives. “The acceptance of credits from several moves by the transfer-friendly SNHU can really be a game-changer. Access to online degree programs changes the lives of spouses who decide to take the plunge and shows them that their goals are, in fact, achievable.
For Conrad, being selected as the recipient of the scholarship brings her one step closer to her goal of using her education to support other military spouses.
Melissa Escobar-Pereira, Regional Director of University Partnerships at SNHU, said the scholarship committee received many outstanding applications, but Conrad’s stood out the most. “What really put Bonnie on top was the clear purpose and intent behind her decision to pursue her education. She knows her ‘why’, and that came through in her response to the application,” said Escobar-Pereira said. “After meeting Bonnie in person and talking with her about her aspirations, it became even clearer that she was going to do amazing things with her degree. I can’t wait to see where she goes.
Build a mobile career that matches your lifestyle
Due to the volatile nature of military life, military spouses must be adaptable and flexible. Conrad joined the army seven times in almost a dozen years. As a result, she underwent several career changes.
“I’ve worked in medical, hospitality, retail, and now I work in market research for a leading global consultancy focused on net zero,” he said. she stated. “I had a lot of opportunities to figure out where I wanted to take my career.”
Conrad also devotes an hour a week to professional development, exploring tasks and programs that interest him. “These workshops can be things like how to create an engaging email campaign or how to set up an effective online business plan for a small business with different CRM platforms,” a- she declared.
With the help of a bachelor’s degree in marketing, she plans to develop her own workshops. “My goal is to be able to turn my studies into workshops to help other military spouses market their small businesses in the most effective and efficient way possible,” she said.
This mobile career will allow her to bring her work wherever the military takes her and connect her professional world to her unique personal life.
Life as a military spouse is “an adventure,” Conrad said. It opened up perspectives, places and cultures that were previously unknown to him and introduced him to new friends.
With each move, her family of four creates a new community of tight-knit families who understand her way of life. “Your neighbors become your emergency contacts for your kids at school the day you move into your house,” Conrad said. “Everyone is more than happy to step in when you need them with things like help picking up kids or cooking a meal for you when you need extra support.”
She believes her bachelor’s degree will open up a new way to support the community of military spouses who work around her. And there are two important people even closer to home that she hopes to inspire by returning to school: Her sons. “I think it’s important for me to show my kids that I can achieve whatever goals I set for myself,” she said. “Right now, I want to keep moving forward, and to do that, I need to continue my education.”
On line. On the campus. Choose your program from over 200 SNHU degrees that can take you where you want to go.
Rebecca LeBoeuf ’18 is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.