If there’s one thing to know about Melissa Galaise, it’s that she tackles her commitments head-on. This military spouse and mother balances parenting, a work-study program, and college club involvement in several University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC) virtual communities.

When it comes to her education, she carves her own path — but it didn’t start out that way.

Studying business was Melissa’s goal from the beginning. She attributes this passion to a favored high school teacher, where her interests are cultivated into a lifelong field of study.

“Business is something that I've always liked,” she says. “The more business classes I took, the more I liked it, and that's what I've stuck with.”

However, her journey wasn’t linear. Melissa  married for the first time at 18 and started a family, which immediately postponed her collegiate career. Even with her scholarships, she was forced to drop out after only attending a few classes.

“Life kind of got in the way,” she explains. “I got pregnant for the first time and then my life was focused on having a job supporting my family.”

Although Melissa had her heart set on earning a degree, her then husband didn’t share her sentiments.

“He didn’t think college was necessary,” Melissa recalls.

This discord was one of the main reasons she is no longer married to him.

It wasn’t all for nothing though. Melissa took away some valuable life lessons that she carries with her today.

First, she doesn’t recommend getting married at a young age to anyone.

“Don’t do it,” she advises.

Second, listen to those around you — namely your parents — before making such commitments at a young age.

“We might not believe that they know what they're talking about, but they do understand, and if they tell you that you should really think about something before you make a decision, you should probably think about it,” she adds.

Melissa divorced her husband and carried on with her life. She was working what she called her “first real job out of high school” at a security company, and about half-way through her seven-year stint there, she met her future second husband while on the job.

They married in 2013, and four years later, she became a military spouse when her husband enlisted in the military.

Luckily, he is more than just encouraging of her education — he has also attended UAGC and took courses when his schedule allowed. 

With the completion of her Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration in sight, Melissa will be the first in her family to graduate college when she finishes her program.

melissa galaise and her family

Always Staying Involved

Since starting her UAGC degree program in 2021, Melissa’s resume continues to grow with her involvement in student organizations and clubs. She holds an executive administrator position for the UAGC chapter of the Student Veterans of America® (SVA) national organization (formerly the Military Support and Leadership Club). In addition, she is a member of Sigma Epsilon Kappa Club, a women-focused online Greek philanthropy group. She also participates in peer tutoring for English 121 classes as part of her UAGC work-study program.

Notably, Melissa is a CHAMPS (Collaborative and Holistic Academic Mentoring for Peer Success) peer mentor, an endeavor that was inspired by her passion for volunteering at the United Service Organization (USO) between station posts.

However, the real ignition for her packed schedule came in 2022 with just four classes into her program, when Melissa gave her first-ever presentation at a UAGC research symposium. Shy and introverted as she was at the time, Melissa found the encouragement and support she needed from UAGC faculty member Bill Davis, who continues to serve as her mentor today.

“Bill reaching out that first time and giving me that opportunity is where it all started,” she says. “He was very encouraging, always so positive, so I decided to go ahead and give it a try.”

Bill Davis’ guidance helped Melissa navigate her presentation on conversational marketing, helping her break out of her shyness and setting her in a new direction full of confidence.

“That was the steppingstone to everything that I am doing now,” she explains.

Completing that project spearheaded a positive path for Melissa, one full of leadership positions and new relationships. In early 2024, Bill Davis approached Melissa again, only this time it was to turn her presentation from the symposium into a segment she shared during the UAGC Culture of Care Summit.

With such a full schedule, like any busy mom and student, Melissa maintains several calendars to keep track of her responsibilities. She believes joining clubs is a key component of virtual learning because it provides opportunities to meet new people, stay involved, and gain experience.

uagc student melissa galaise with her husband

Homes Across the World

Melissa’s current life in Fort Carson, Colorado, is preceded by time living in Louisiana, Texas, and England, but her official home state is Ohio. When she married her husband in 2013, he was finally able to fulfill his wish of joining the military, something that ironically wasn’t supported in his previous marriage.

When her husband enlisted, he left for basic training right away. Their house sold quickly, but since they didn’t have their next home secured, Melissa and her children had to adapt in the meantime.

“There was a little bit of time where we didn't have a place to stay, so that was a little bit of a strain,” she says.  

The following six months were spent back and forth with Melissa’s parents, in a hotel, and in the family van with their five kids. Luckily, when her husband returned from basic training, they received housing in Louisiana.

Balancing parenthood and her coursework is demanding, but even now, the most difficult aspect of their separation is the uncertainty.

“The biggest challenge is the unknown of the military, not knowing where we're going to be year to year, not knowing when he's going to be here,” she says.

Staying cognizant of the dangers her husband faces helps Melissa to remain grounded through long periods of separation. She also finds solace in other ways; besides her many extracurriculars, she loves reading fantasy and science fiction books.

Opportunities on the Horizon

“Grit and determination” is how Melissa works through tough moments and still maintains a 4.0 GPA. Today, she is already taking courses toward her master’s degree while still pursuing a bachelor’s degree on the UAGC SMART Track program. She also plans on pursuing an academic advisor role as part of her postgraduate plans.

“That was one of the big things that I knew I wanted, my MBA,” Melissa says. “I knew I wanted to keep going, so I'm working on that.”

Ultimately, Melissa uses her time to give back to the supportive community that provides her with fulfillment and resources as an active-duty military spouse. Through her successes, she advises others in her position to get involved with the services and organizations provided through virtual learning.

“Reach out and take advantage of the resources that the university offers,” she says. “We have clubs that are geared toward military-affiliated students and just general academics. Don't sit in silence. Don't be a student in the shadows. Get out there. Meet people. You will be amazed how many people have similar experiences.”


Student success stories should not be interpreted as a promise or guarantee of career advancement or future earnings. The stories shared here represent the outcomes of individual students for illustrative purposes only.  
Certain degree programs may not be available in all states.

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement. 

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