The wife of an Army chemical corps member, Diana Hoffmann and her family were used to moving around. Within six years, the family had called five states their home. Because of the frequent moves and the timing, Diana, who holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, found it difficult to land a teaching job.
So she decided to delay her dream to become a science teacher and pursue a different career path.
Stationed at JBLM, her husband mentioned a WorkForce Central program that offered veterans and military spouses a year of tuition-free education in Bates Technical College’s Diesel and Heavy Equipment Mechanic program.
“It was pure luck that the program turned out to be a good fit,” said Diana. “As the mother of two young girls, with a baby on the way, I feel a strong duty to be a positive example of what women can accomplish,” she said.
After the first year, Diana opted to continue her education for two more quarters to earn an associate in applied science degree in spring 2015. During her final quarter, Diana entered the work-based learning phase of her program with FedEx Freight, located in Fife.
“It’s a partnership between the college and employer,” explained Diana. “My instructors suggested I would be a good fit, so I interviewed for the position of fleet mechanic, and I got the job!”
The partnership with FedEx Freight is a pilot program, where students work with mentors six months to a year.
“I was hoping to find a career that allowed me to advance and learn, regardless of where the Army decided to transfer us…I feel incredibly fortunate that I not only had an aptitude for the work, but a true passion for my new life path,” said Diana, whose long-term goal is to earn a master’s or doctorate degree in education and teach in either a high school or technical college.
She is excited to embark on this new career. As a military spouse, Diana highly recommends Bates Technical College for others in a similar situation.
“If you’re only [in Washington] for a few years, you can complete your education without having to worry about transferring credits. Plus, when you learn a trade, it’s a skill that remains with you wherever you are in the world. Especially important for military spouses, it’s a great way to contribute to family productivity and still have your own life,” she said.
Reflecting on her experience at Bates, Diana said, “I’m confident that I will be able to take the lessons I’ve learned—both about trucks and how to interact with co-workers, into the workforce. Ideally, I will stay in the industry while my husband is active duty, after which I will combine my education background with my practical experience to help the next generation of mechanics,” she said.