An indirect path to success

November 23, 2020

Deann WinterDeann Winter has blazed her own path and never let obstacles get in the way of her goals.

“Life is not a straight path. Choose a path that fits you best and allows you to grow along the way,” Winter says.

The senior in animal science, set to graduate in December, grew up spending her free time on her family’s cattle ranch near Wickenburg, Arizona. Her passion for animal agriculture grew. She had applied at several colleges to pursue animal science and veterinary school. When high school came to a close, she felt the financial burden was too large and decided to enlist in the Army.

Winter began in the Army as a diesel mechanic and was stationed in both Germany and Italy. Upon her return to the U.S. she served as a Sargent in Fort Bragg in the Battalion training and operations section. She met her husband in the Army and after her sixth year of service, they moved back to his home state of Iowa to focus on their growing family.

She applied to Iowa State at the encouragement of her husband’s family.  Being a non-traditional student and a mother of two rambunctious young boys – two-year old Elijah and four-year old Walker – hasn’t always been easy. “Some days are better than others,” she admits. Winter says she understands the tradeoff of being a mother while attending college.

“Not every assignment or test will be perfect. Sometimes, I need to prioritize time with my boys,” she says.   

Winter says her favorite professor at Iowa State is Anna Johnson who focuses on animal behavior and well-being. “She made learning so fun and interesting,” says Winter. Her favorite course? Animal Anatomy and Physiology in the animal science 214 lab -- she continues to use the book from that course as a resource.

The Iowa State University Veteran’s Center has served as a resource for Winter while adjusting to civilian life. The center is located in the Memorial Union and serves as a place for current and former military personnel and their families to come together and work on homework or relax. They also host events such as a math bootcamp and serve a weekly dinner. “It’s a big family that connects everyone together and gives a sense of belonging once they’re back in civilian life,” she says. Winter spent a semester working on the research team at the Veteran’s Center and collected information on topics such as the GI Bill. When asked about the greatest success story she’s been a part of at the Veteran’s Center, Winter says, “every veteran that graduates is a success story.”

Winter plans to continue her education and attend veterinary school next fall. Her advice to new students is to not be afraid of setbacks. “It is okay to change your mind along the way,” she says. “You might not end up where you thought, but you’ll end up right where you’re supposed to be.”