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The Rosie Project is opening doors for military spouses at Hill AFB and beyond

By Ryan Aston - | Feb 5, 2024

Photo supplied, Weber State University

Students attend a Rosie Project class at Weber State University Davis on May 22, 2023.

OGDEN — Weber State University, Hill Air Force Base and Catalyst Campus have teamed up on a program that aims to get military spouses jobs within the Department of Defense.

Given the constant movement that military families experience with changes of station, assignment and deployment, active-duty spouses often have difficulty finding meaningful employment. The Rosie Project is a tuition-free information technology program through which they can obtain certifications and jumpstart careers in the IT space.

“It’s just so challenging for a military spouse,” Tamilyn Kaaekuahiwi, a recent Rosie Project graduate, told the Standard-Examiner. “There’s this assumption that you’re maybe not reliable or not worth taking a chance on because, ‘When are you going to move?’ There’s just this misery of the spouse and this anxiety because it’s so stressful looking for a job.”

That’s exactly the kind of situation that Rosie Project co-founder Beth Rhoades, the director of programming for WSU’s online and continuing education division, would like to stamp out by opening the doors to opportunities within the DOD and beyond.

“These military spouses very easily could be transferring these skills from one base to another, giving them a career — a legitimate career. Rather than, ‘Oh, you can work at a gas station’ or ‘You could work at a gym,'” Rhoades said.

Rhoades noted that the unemployment rate among military spouses is high due to the challenges they face and the stigma surrounding them with off-base employers.

A ceremony celebrating Rosie Project graduates was held at Ogden’s Union Station on Wednesday, and people are already applying for the program’s next cohort, which will begin in March.

It’s shaping up to be the biggest one yet from Hill AFB. After beginning with 15 students from the base for the first cohort, the second saw an increase to 29 and the group for March is already 31 strong, Rhoades told the Standard-Examiner.

“I was kind of at a point in my life where I was waiting for something like that to come along,” Anissa Arroyo, another Rosie Project graduate, said of her decision to apply for a spot in the program. “I just love to learn new things and I had always wanted to do a graduate program.”

Arroyo and other “Rosies” also have gained something beyond just education that’s difficult for military families to establish while moving from base to base — a support system and community.

“I think that there’s a big gap for spouses and a lack of support,” Kaaekuahiwi said. “That’s why the Rosie Project spoke to me so much. It has been on my heart and my mind — as we’ve moved around this last decade — that it’s just so challenging for a military spouse.”

Added Arroyo: “I felt so supported throughout the whole process, and I’ve made such great friends, and I think that’s the most important thing — even over subject matter.”

The Rosie Project is now expanding to other bases around the country, and there are hopes of incorporating a project management certification into the program, too.

The program’s first four cohorts have largely been grant-funded by the Utah System of Higher Education. Additional funds are being sought to aid in expansion efforts.

More information on the Rosie Project can be found at https://www.rosieproject.org.


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