By Daphne Kotschessa Almodovar, University Communications and Marketing
After spending 10 years in the military, Air Force fighter pilots Capt. Zach Eastman and Maj. Liz Eastman are now in their second-to-last semester at USF. The married couple are currently serving as flight instructors at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas, all while working to complete their online Master of Business Administration.
“The program is teaching us things flight commanders deal with. You must focus on leadership over flying,” Liz said. “You mentor folks and help them progress while relying on your own vast experience and paying close attention to the group needs and performance.”
The Eastmans credit their professors in the Muma College of Business for helping them develop big-picture thinking in a program broad enough to enhance their bachelor’s degrees. Zach has a degree in criminology and Liz in engineering.
“From legal systems to design thinking to leadership program management, we’ve obtained a baseline understanding of what it takes to succeed both in military and civilian business,” Zach said. “Learning about finance has been insightful. We already know we will hire a good accountant when the time comes.”
The Eastmans met on their first day of pilot training in Texas. Zach was immediately smitten but Liz was one of very few female pilots in that peer group and was not looking to date. It took nine months, but Zach finally convinced Liz to go out with him and they married in 2017. The Eastmans were stationed in Valdosta, Georgia, when they heard about the online Master of Business Administration program from Zach’s sister, Meagan, who is a proud USF Bull. They found that military tuition assistance was generous, and the timing matched their plans to continue serving while completing their degrees. The pair enrolled and began the program in the fall of 2021.
The Eastmans have built a strong foundation in the face of being stationed in South Korea, deployed to the United Arab Emirates, the erratic schedules and the stress of their demanding jobs. The discipline and collaboration, along with mentorship and specialties in complex fields, provide Liz and Zach the edge required to succeed academically.
“We support each other through the program by taking the same courses so we can study together and discuss the content while reminding each other of what’s due when,” Liz said.
When they retire within the next decade, the Eastmans have a dream far away from the barracks and hangars. Their goal is to open a coffee and wine bar in North Carolina for all to enjoy.
Ensuring military and veteran success is part of USF’s commitment to accommodating the needs of the university’s wide range of students. More information about the various services available from the Office of Veteran Success can be found here. Learn more about USF’s online Master of Business Administration here.