By: Lauren Ferrara
Posted: Jun 19, 2018 09:00 AM MDT
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Anni Mezzofante likes to watch things grow: her garden, her chickens, her two teenage daughters.
“Since [my husband] was in the military serving, it was an obvious choice for me to stay home, and so I did,” said Anni.
Anni married Joe after her junior year of high school. He enlisted in the Army and left for Korea two weeks later.
Their world changed on April 3, 2001, when they welcomed Anni Kyra into the world.
Then it changed again two years later, with the birth of Sicily.
“I just got to see them grow into beautiful women.”
That’s something Joe missed out on.
“As a drill sergeant, I get home, they were asleep. I leave, they’re still asleep,” remembered Joe.
“There were times I would get up early enough to hang out with my dad in the morning and that was like three in the morning,” recounted Anni Kyra tearfully.
Anni was determined to give her husband the same gift she enjoyed, the precious gift of time.
“It was an obvious choice for us to switch roles,” said Anni.
At 33 years old, as a mother of two, she went to college. She was the first in her entire family.
“She was getting three majors, finance, accounting and economics, and then a minor in photography in four and a half years,” said Anni Kyra, beaming at her mom.
When Anni graduated from UCCS, Joe retired from the Army.
“During that process, we found out he had a TBI (traumatic brain injury),” said Anni.
So the pressure was on for Anni to become the breadwinner.
Armed with two degrees, she thought she was ready.
“You hear a lot, ‘Oh, but you served too,’ but then you go to transition into the civilian world and suddenly the rules change,” said Anni.
She was told she didn’t have enough experience and that her skills weren’t relevant.
“It was hard it… It was hard,” she said tearfully.
Not one to accept defeat, Anni went to Goodwill and joined the LIFT Training Epicenter, getting hands-on experience in IT.
She started networking and one of her connections led to a job at Merrill Lynch as a client associate.
“I didn’t think I would be in the position I am today, doing a job that I absolutely love,” said Anni.
As for Joe, he loves his job too, making up for lost time.
He volunteers at the girls’ school, decorates for dances, and builds equipment for the student council.
“Having both my mom and my dad, even if it’s at different times, teaching me different skills that I need to know, it’s been amazing and I’ve loved it,” said Anni Kyra.
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