This month, I celebrated an important day in my life. Maybe the word celebrate is too strong. OK, I marked an important day in my life.
Seven years ago I left the protective, overbearing arms of my parents and nagging sounds of my pre-school aged sister to join the Army. I was barely legal and I was heading to basic training to learn how to kill people with my pinky (OK, no we really donâ€™t learn how to do thatâ€¦ unfortunately). The funny thing is, if you know me, rolling around in the dirt is the last thing you would expect. The only mud I was ever interested in was used for my facials. But there I was, fresh out of high school, surrounded by people of all races and ages working to reach a common goal, which is to say, to survive all of that running and screaming drill sergeants.
Eventually, I did graduate basic training and Advanced Individual Training for my first military job. I moved overseas, which was an experience in itself.Â It was hard enough understanding the heavy Southern accents of my drill sergeants and school instructors, now I had to understand a foreign language too! It was cultural overload for me.Â But while leaving New York City for a European life where I traveled, practiced different languages and tasted different foods wasnâ€™t the experience I expected, I was enjoyed the new adventure.
Fast-forward more than five years later and I am still wearing the militaryâ€™s uniform.Â Upon my college graduation, I give a tear-filled goodbye to fellow graduating seniors and their families, professors, my family and the local TV news station. I declare to everyone that I will use my influence in the military to be an inspiration to all that will come after me, especially young minority women. In college, I mentor young girls from the neighboring high school and I get such enjoyment from helping and guiding others. This maybe why I like being in the military.Â I am a Sergeant, which means I am expected to lead by example.
Since I have been in position to lead, I have tried to be a model soldier for others to emulate without letting my race or gender influence or hinder my performance or perception by others.Â Still, Iâ€™m not perfect. This past weekend on a mission I didnâ€™t perform to my greatest potential. As a university-trained journalist and I was so excited to be on an assignment getting great video coverage that when I reviewed the tape, it was wack. I felt I had disappointed the people who depended on me to be a quality journalist and took it as a major blow to my ego.
But just when I was feeling low, I heard there was an skirmish earlier in the day where a few soldiers had died. Unfortunately in a combat zone, tragedy happens very often but at that moment hearing the news made me laugh. Here I was crying because I got shaky video that I can reshoot the next day and there were people, probably my age or younger, who wonâ€™t see tomorrow. It was definitely a reality check for me.
I have so much to live for. I know it sounds clichÃ© but itâ€™s real. In my graduating picture to be a broadcast journalist in the Army, I was the only minority student in my class.Â I have always been proud to represent a small demographic and Iâ€™ve always been proud to be a mentor for those who come after me.Â Every now and then I have second thoughts but whatâ€™s done is done.Â The only thing I can do now is plan out my next move because I wonâ€™t be stationed in Afghanistan forever.