Jose and Amy Moreno are showing you can go home again.
At the age of 6, Jose emigrated from Mexico with his father and settled near Tucson, Ariz. He would later attend Arizona State University and embark on a 25-year military career in the Army before retiring in October 2022.
He met his wife, Amy, a self-described “military brat,” at ASU and they have now been married for 27 years. But Jose’s military career took him around the world, including two deployments in Bosnia, two to Iraq, short tours through South Asia and another stay in Japan that saw the Morenos and their three children – Emma, Elias and Lucas – relocate.
It was during their time in Japan when the Morenos realized their time with ASU wasn’t over.
“When we moved to Japan, we realized that our kids had the opportunity to go to local Japanese school,” Amy said. “We had each of them in a local Japanese school for a year. But because the school year in Japan doesn’t align to American schools, our daughter actually missed her freshman year of high school, since there’s no way to transfer credits from a Japanese public school to an American public school, so we were looking for a way to help her catch up on her high school credits.”
The Morenos found a solution through Arizona State’s prep digital program, an accredited online program that allows K-12 students from military families who are often moving from base to base to maintain a regular education program and not fall behind.
Their children succeeded through remote learning as Emma, a current ASU student, graduated in three years from high school with a year of college credit. Her brothers are also thriving in the program despite the regular upheaval in their lives from moving around so much. Elias will also be a Sun Devil next year.
“It’s nice that they did not have to start completely over like I had to when I moved to a new state and then started high school,” Amy said. “It was definitely traumatic.”
When Jose retired from the military, it was time to settle down. Tempe, Ariz., the home of ASU, was the top priority, but finding work was the next goal, which both accomplished.
Jose parlayed his Army experience into a position with the Quantum Collaborative at ASU’s Research Technology Office. Amy was also hired by the school as an academic advisor for the Barrett Honors College.
When Jose left the Army, he wasn’t sure what the future held, but he was ready to move on to the next challenge.
“There are more options than just walking into a Department of Defense job,” Jose said. “I would say it’s important to work as a team (with significant others, family members, etc.). Have a plan and plan early to have options. There are options out there and it doesn’t have to be permanent.”
Jose and Amy are both 48 years old now, and while they are living the dream of returning to the alma mater where they met and fell in love with each other and the community, neither are conceding this is how (or where) their story will end.
“Whatever you do right after your transition doesn’t have to be the thing that you’re doing for the rest of your life,” Jose said. “That’s something that we’ve talked a lot about, that we’re okay if we’re not here for another, you know, 20 years. We’ve never had that opportunity where we’ve been able to be in the same place twice, so it feels like a homecoming.”