MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Ensign Iris D. Manso, a Kissimmee, Fla., native has accomplished a lot since joining the military.
Manso deployed multiple times, served as a combat corpsman, was part of a Female Engagement Team, achieved her master’s degree and attained the rank of ensign while being a wife and mother of two.
Manso enlisted in the Navy after graduating high school in 2003. She said she joined as a point of pride, knowingly volunteering to serve during a time of war.
“If you really want it, you’re going to make [finishing school] happen,” said Manso. “You just have to prioritize and stay focused.
Manso knew she wanted to go to college while she was in the military, and made a conscious effort to achieve her goal.
“I think people lose focus on their goals or get too busy, and then before you know it, four years have passed,” said Manso.
Manso also said she had a great support system comprised of enlisted peers, leaders, officers and her family, who encouraged her to pursue her goals.
She considered leaving the military after earning her bachelor’s degree, but knew a master’s degree would give her a competitive edge in her job field.
She used the Tuition Assistance Program, GI Bill and even paid out of pocket to reach her goal.
Manso said she waited to make the decision to submit a package to become an officer.
“It was a big decision to make,” she said. “The enlisted side is a lot more hands-on and up front during deployments -- I like that.”
She also wanted to be a part of the Female Engagement Team, which deployed to Afghanistan in 2011.
Manso said she will miss the camaraderie between enlisted personnel, but she is looking forward to the future.
“I know it’s going to be a big change,” said Manso. “It just hasn’t hit me yet.”
After achieving all of her goals and earning a commission, Manso hasn’t lost sight of who she is.
“Being an officer isn’t going to change me, it’s just going to change my job.”