Sergeant First Class
Veteran | 19 years in the U.S. Army
A former military veteran who served the United States Army for almost 20 years and 8 years as DoD. She is also one of the recipients of the Pike Peak Community College 50th Promise Scholarship. She graduated in 2017, with Military Honors, a member of PHi Theta Kappa, maintained a 3.65 GPA, and received her AAS degree in Medical Assisting and Phlebotomy Certification respectively, and will be graduating in May 2021 with certifications in Medical Billing and Coding.
What made you decide to serve our country, and what are some benefits that came from your experience?
I come from a military family. My oldest brother was a Marine, my uncle was in the Navy, I had family in the Air Force, and at the time, my husband was an Army Veteran. I decided to join so that I would be able to give back. To me, the benefits that came with being in the military were very interesting. One of those benefits was that I was able to travel worldwide and experience different cultures with my family. I was part of the Desert Storm era and the time of Agent Orange. Going through that and getting an in-depth experience of different cultures was beneficial.
Experiencing what they are telling you on the news was also interesting because the news does not always tell the truth of what was going on, and I got to see and know what was going on.
How long did you serve, where were you stationed, and what was your highest rank?
I completed my basic training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Then I went on to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, to do my actual training, and most of my time was spent learning to be a truck driver for the military. I was then sent to Fort Carson, my first duty station. Then they sent me to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. I spent about three and half years in Hawaii, then returned to Fort Carson for a short time and then got sent overseas for a tour. After that, I ended up having a brief break in my career, but then I chose to re-enlist after 9/11. I was soon deployed to various camps such as Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Mosul, Iraq, and then spent my remaining time in Baghdad, Iraq.
Altogether, my career was almost 20 years, from 1992 to 2011. (Plus two years delayed entry, so 22 years.)
What was your area study at Pikes Peak Community College, and why did you choose to go into that field? How has PPCC helped you to further your career?
I decided to go back to school during a time when I, unfortunately, had to have open-heart surgery. That experience is really what got me to make the transition from military to civilian life. I was faced with having to start over, and that’s how I became interested in furthering my education at Pikes Peak Community College, where I chose to go into the medical field. Even as a child, I was always interested in helping people, so I chose to pursue a career as a Medical Assistant.
PPCC has an internship as part of their Medical Assistant and Phlebotomy program, which was great because you got to learn from hands-on experience and not just in the classroom. You went to a clinic or hospital and gained that experience.
PPCC helped me to further my career because, in my opinion, they have an excellent program. The instructors take the time to get involved in helping students learn in their particular field. With hands-on learning, they prepare the students for the real world and train them to know what to expect once you transition from school to the real world.
What was one of your most impactful memories at PPCC?
One memory that still touches my heart happened while participating in the Work-Study program that they offered there. I got to practice the things that I was learning because a co-worker of mine started showing some symptoms of distress.
I could sense that something wasn’t right with her, and we later found out that she had a heart attack. Because of my personal experience of having two heart surgeries and my training through PPCC, I was able to discern that she showed symptoms of a heart attack and get her the help she needed in time. I will always be grateful for what I learned at PPCC because I could save her life that day.
What advice do you have for black women in the service and ones who plan on furthering their education?
Unfortunately, we’re always going to have greater challenges to face by being a woman, and especially a black woman, in the military. We’re always going to have to do more to prove ourselves. That is the reality of it, especially when it comes to moving up in rank. Despite this, I would advise any black woman to believe, keep going, and not let anyone tell her what she can and can’t do. You have to believe in yourself even when no one else does and believe that you are more than enough.
We’re making strides as a country, but there’s still a long way to go.
When I first started my educational career, I had put it in my head that I was behind because of my age. I realized that age doesn’t matter and that you can never get started “too late.” Believing that will only limit yourself. Don’t ever put a limit or ceiling over your head as far as learning because you should always strive to remain teachable. We are never too old to learn.
It doesn’t matter where you start. All that matters is that you take that first step, even if you have to start at a junior college. Give yourself the chance to begin somewhere. Society will always try to place limitation tags on women in general, especially black women, but remember it’s their tag and not yours. You have to believe in the possibilities for yourself. Invest in yourself and know that you are worth it. #NOLIMITS
-Interview by Talisa Caldwell