Winter 2020

Balancing Life, Passion and Profession

When Garnetta Moman ’09 reminisces about the University of Arizona, she recalls working hard in the Eller College of Management — and relishing every minute of it. She remembers getting critical tuition help from the UA Black Alumni Club, and she remembers the Africana Studies professor who pushed her to become a better writer. She thinks of the friends who prodded her into a joyful sideline as a DJ.

But most of all, Moman thanks UArizona for steering her onto the perfect career path. “When I look back, it really taught me to find my passion,” she says. “I was trying to figure out what to major in, and all I knew at the time was that I enjoyed helping people.”

Garnetta Moman / Light Photography photo

That presented an abundance of options, from marketing to restaurants. She ultimately settled on business management. “Eller really taught me to find my passion,” Moman says. “I loved all the courses, even the challenging ones. They truly prepared me for the real world, and once I got my first job offer, I excelled because I was used to putting in the hard work and long hours.”

That first offer came from insurance giant GEICO, where she would spend nearly seven years, eventually moving up to retention supervisor. At every step, she tapped into skills gained at Eller. 

Top among them was networking. “They teach you the importance of networking with peers, networking with the dean, with professors,” she says. “To this day I still have a Twitter account because of Eller. It was extra credit.” 

The college also instilled the importance of teamwork. “It was having that experience in college,” she says, “the practice of organizing your thoughts and interacting with people, listening to different opinions and meeting a common goal, that made me successful at GEICO.”

She likewise credits her Africana Studies class for honing her communications skills. The course was taught by Colette Sims, a longtime UArizona professor and health advocate for the Black community. “I was the only freshman in a class of seniors,” Moman recalls. “I was scared to turn in every paper because she was so tough. But I always got an A, because she had helped me transform my writing skills.” 

Sims passed away in May 2020 from a coronavirus-related illness. But her legacy survives in Moman’s current work as an independent claims adjuster. “I’m writing emails to my managers every day now,” Moman says. “To know that I can write and speak effectively and use correct grammar — that’s everything if you want to be taken seriously.” 

Moman now lives in Houston, where she grew up. On the less serious side, she often works as a DJ at parties and other events — a talent also developed in her college days. “My friends were always saying, ‘Hey, Garnetta, run your playlist,’” she says. Today, she does just that at parties, weddings and even for kids. She calls it a soothing change from her often gritty work as an adjuster. 

“Usually, when people call an insurance company, it’s during the worst days of their lives,” she says. “Maybe a hurricane wiped out their home, or their car. So normally we’re putting together a plan for a bad situation.
“But when people call me to DJ,” she says, “it’s because they want to celebrate. So it has been a great balance.” 

At UArizona, she loved everything from sports to making acquaintances on the Safe Ride trans-portation program. But, she recalls, as one of a relatively small number of Black students at UArizona, her experience was different than that of her white friends. 

It remains different today. “I have been a Black woman in corporate America, and I have been discriminated against,” says Moman, who supports the Black Lives Matter movement. “I’m in favor of equal and fair treatment of people across the board. It is a trying time for us right now, and it hurts. But I am hoping for the best outcome.”

That optimism is born of her hard work and deep motivation — and a transformative university experience.