Shannon Zellner, Air Force Spouse

From military brat to military wife, Shannon married and followed her High School boyfriend who joined the Air Force in 2014 and PCS’d shortly after. Adapting as a military spouse came with plenty of challenges such as deployments and relocations, including living overseas. Thanks to her upbringing as a military child, Shannon was able to rely on her experience to overcome many of these challenges. She is proud of her roots: her mother immigrated from Mexico and her father was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Her father served honorably for 22 years in the Air Force.

In May of 2019, Shannon decided to return to school in pursuit of her bachelor’s degree. Her husband was deployed at the time and during a call he shared they received orders to Japan. Shannon was worried she may have to hold out yet again on her dreams and aspirations due to their military lifestyle. After researching options she decided to enroll online and began attending Arizona State University virtually while living in Japan. She was grateful for military resources that helped her manage a full time job, being a full time student, while raising her daughter and continuing her education through another deployment. She continued to serve her community as a Key spouse, Hispanic Heritage executive member, Red Cross admin, and an elementary school aid. She persevered and continued her education through the losses of her father-in-law and sudden loss of her father. A week after her father’s passing she learned she was pregnant with her second baby. Shannon felt it was an honor to serve the country her dad had proudly served for so many years while showcasing the resilience of their military family.

In December 2022, Shannon graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA majoring in Sociology with a minor in family and human development and Spanish. She walked the stage a week prior to giving birth. She felt a sense of humility and pride as she was awarded the Joan Orr Award in 2022.  Shannon’s story gives hope to military spouses to continue to thrive despite facing challenges with military life. Her coursework has given her the opportunity to continue to serve and help her military community. She is the embodiment of a selfless and humble leader who pours herself into her community while supporting her service member and family.

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