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Alicia Wise’s military experience instilled confidence and the importance of education

Growing up, education was not a priority in Alicia Wise’s family. She was the first in her family to graduate high school, persisting despite a lack of support at home. At 18, she wanted to start her own life and that meant finding a way to support herself without a degree.

Wise joined the military as a means to that end, but the instruction and training she received helped her develop a sense of pride and self-worth she wasn’t expecting. Now, the 33-year-old wife, mother, veteran and business owner has a new perspective on life that prompted her to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Business.

Wise aspires to model a positive attitude and a fighting spirit as she balances her multiple roles in life. She hopes to be the inspiration to her children that she never had.

“My whole life I was told I would never amount to anything,” said Wise, an Army specialist. “Success was not in my vocabulary growing up. So everything I do now is for my family.”

When she thinks of the person she has become, Wise considers her deployment “life-changing.” She had few close relationships as a child, and it wasn’t until her time as a human intelligence collector in the Army that she began to understand what had been lacking in life.

During her five years of active duty, including 15 months in Iraq, she developed a trust in others, a sense of pride and accomplishment in herself, and a desire to be successful in her individual role to contribute to her team’s overall goals.

After her active duty ended, Wise moved to California to attend language school during her three years of inactive duty. There, she met her future husband, Joseph, another veteran.

The couple married and moved to Hawaii for Joseph to fulfill his military obligations. Wise decided to tackle what her younger self hadn’t even considered — starting college. Not only was she a first-generation high school grad and first-generation military veteran, but she was also a first-generation college student.

Wise had faced and succeeded in the unknown all her life, and college would be no different. Except this time, she had the support and encouragement of her husband.

“Alicia is an amazing mother, wife and friend,” Joseph said. “She is capable of achieving and accomplishing whatever she sets her sights on.”

Wise found University of Phoenix in 2013 while researching options for flexible programs so she could juggle school and her job. She started her degree but had to pause her education unexpectedly to move from Hawaii to Texas for another military move. During the move, she faced an even tougher challenge ― a second-trimester miscarriage.

For about eight months, Wise said she had very little motivation to do much of anything constructive. Then the family made another move, this time to Georgia, where Wise began working as a child care provider, serving as caregiver to her 14-month-old nephew.

Wise and her husband focused on starting their own family, which had always been her greatest dream. Their journey was full of joys and sorrows. They welcomed Greyson, now 2, but lost his twin. They then became pregnant with Sarah, now 1, but also lost her twin.

Soon after Sarah was born, the family relocated twice more, ending up in Arizona to be closer to family as Joseph’s retirement drew closer. Wise recently felt ready to reenroll at UOPX. She opened her own business, Wise Realty, LLC, and knew she would benefit from learning new skills to support her career.

Wise makes it a point to carefully balance school and work with the care of her family, never missing the kids’ bedtime routine: bath, books and singing. It’s something Wise said wouldn’t be possible without the flexibility her online University of Phoenix schedule allows.

As Wise works on her degree and considers what comes next, she wants to grow her new business to be successful and sustainable as well as travel with her family to enjoy “all the thrills and frills” of life.

Without her military experience, Wise said she may never have gained confidence in herself and her ability to learn and execute tasks. And though she did not have the support of her family growing up, she is now instilling confidence in her own children, showing them the difference an education can make.

“I’ve had such a crazy life,” Wise said. “I have two babies and an amazing family, some not even related by blood, and an amazing husband. I’m so thankful, proud and amazed at what my life is now.”