Deployed Degree

Cyclone Stories: Brittany Whitehead (MS '22 family financial planning) / Bartlett, Tennessee

Written by Fred Love

Brittany Whitehead, 2022 masters graduate and military personnel

Brittany Whitehead turned in homework under some seemingly impossible conditions. She studied during hurricanes, while on deployment across the Middle East, and even from a hospital bed. Whitehead balanced her military career and family while completing her master’s degree in family financial planning from Iowa State through an online program. 

Whitehead grew up near San Diego and earned an undergraduate degree in political science before joining the South Carolina National Guard about 10 years ago. The lessons she learned from her grandmother about the value of a dollar inspired her to consider continuing her education in financial literacy. Her grandmother came of age during the Great Depression, and the economic calamity of the era taught her to squeeze the most from every penny.

So, Whitehead looked for ways to earn an advanced degree in financial planning while still serving in the National Guard. That’s when she discovered the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA), a national consortium of universities that offers flexible online programs. Iowa State’s master’s program in family financial planning, offered through GPIDEA, sounded like the perfect option. She completed the degree in three and half years, taking courses at a pace that her busy schedule allowed without setting foot on campus.

“This program was amazing because of the flexibility,” she says. “Just trying to be a mom and wife and a military officer, I have to switch gears so often, and the program and all the faculty I worked with made it possible.”

With the degree wrapped up, Whitehead plans to put in another decade with the military and use her financial expertise to help other members of  the military with tax and retirement savings decisions.