Juwon Kim, Dimitri Serrano continue their life journey together as 2024 UAH graduates

Picture of Dimitri Serrano, left, and Juwon Kim.
Dimitri Serrano, left, and Juwon Kim began their life journey together when they jumped out of a plane during a U.S. Army airborne operation. The couple achieved another big accomplishment when they both graduated from The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) on May 6, 2024. Serrano received a master’s from the College of Business, and Kim earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Courtesy Dimitri Serrano, Juwon Kim

Juwon Kim and Dimitri Serrano met while waiting to jump out of a plane during a U.S. Army airborne operation out of Fort Liberty, N.C. A fellow soldier took a photo of them, both smiling, right before they jumped. Later Serrano emailed the photo to Kim with a note, “Hey, you look very happy to be jumping.” He included his phone number.

That jump in the summer of 2019 started the couple’s journey together – through more airborne jumps, marriage, parenthood and now graduation from The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) on May 6, 2024. Kim earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree while Serrano received a Master of Science in supply chain management from the College of Business. UAH is a part of The University of Alabama System.

Dimitri Serrano, right, and Juwon Kim began lef jumping out of a plane during a U.S. Army airborne operation
Juwon Kim, left, and Dimitri Serrano are about to jump out of a plane during a U.S. Army airborne operation in the summer of 2019. They had just met, and that meeting would lead to marriage, parenthood and graduation from The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) on May 6, 2024.
Courtesy Dimitri Serrano, Juwon Kim

"“I was trying to get a photo of the jump because my grandfather was an airborne paratrooper in the Korean War,” Serrano recalls. “Juwon had been jumping for years prior to me starting to jump out of planes.”

“I was the paratrooper ahead of him,” Kim says. “I jumped out of the airplane first, and then he jumped out after me. I happened to be photobombing him. And here we are.”

Kim joined the Army after college, enlisting as a medic. She moved up the ranks to sergeant and deployed to Afghanistan. Then she was called back to attend Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. She was a first lieutenant when she left the Army at the end of her contract.

“We decided to start our family,” Kim says, “and I decided to get out and follow this guy.”

The couple moved to Huntsville when Serrano, a captain, was transferred to Redstone Arsenal, where he is an operations officer. They’ve been here three years. Along with a daughter who turns 3 this summer, they are expecting a son.

Both Kim and Serrano started their degree programs at UAH at the same time.

“Having that medic background helped me to choose to stay in the medical field,” Kim says. “The UAH nursing program is one of the best known in North Alabama. I think they have the most professional instructors here.”

She says she appreciates the nursing program’s rigorous standards.

“They don’t go easy on you. It’s a really difficult school. They make sure they push you, but I think it’s been great. I think they help you to not only become a nurse, but to understand why you’re doing things from beginning to end.”

For Serrano, the master’s degree is his next step in the progression of his military career. He says the flexibility of UAH’s program made it easier to balance family, work and school.

“UAH has a great online and in-person, or hybrid, program in the College of Business. I’ve always been fascinated with supply chain management after it kind of stalled during COVID. It fit my background of being logistics officer.”

Serrano also praises UAH’s veteran’s program.

“UAH has been very veteran friendly,” he says. “They have a good veterans program, pretty seamless to apply. With UAH’s location near Redstone Arsenal, it provides a lot of federal employment opportunities, not just within the Department of the Army but NASA and the FBI.”

For Kim and Serrano, UAH has been family friendly, too.

“UAH has provided our family some accommodation to do what we have to do to get it done, but also to make it challenging,” Serrano says. “When I went to school for undergrad 14 years ago, I don’t think I would have ever thought there’d be opportunities like this for growing families. Getting your degree can be something you put off, but it can be done. At UAH, it’s like, let’s work together to get to ‘yes’. We’ve definitely appreciated that.”