‘Phenomenal women’ inspire, navigate road to success

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When I think about Women’s History Month a poem the late Maya Angelou penned titled “Phenomenal Woman” comes
to mind.

In one of the sections of the poem Angelou wrote, “I walk into a room just as cool as you please, and to a man, the fellows stand or fall down on their knees. Then they swarm around me, a hive of honey bees. I say, it’s the fire in my eyes, and the flash of my teeth, the swing in my waist, and the joy in my feet. I’m a woman phenomenally.”

When I read that part, as well as the rest of this poem, I begin to think of all of the wo- men whose shoulders I stand.
I think of Harriet Tubman, the woman called Moses, who not only freed slaves using the Underground Railroad, but she was also a Soldier during the Civil War who was used as a spy for the Union.

I also think of the women who I’ve used as inspiration because I looked at them and thought I could be just like them.

It began with my mother who instilled in me the confidence to believe I can be anything I choose to be as long as I work hard. She also provided me the strength, courage and motivation by always saying, “With each generation there shall be improvement.” She wasn’t only speaking as an African-American but as a woman.

As I matriculated through school I encountered women who pushed me to, at the risk of sounding like a cliché, be all that I can be. There were moments when I wanted to take the easy road, but those women were always there to let me know there are no shortcuts in life. I know, another cliché.

When I decided to join the Army Reserve and active Army I began to encounter many of those phenomenal women such as my former personnel advisory center supervisor, retired Sgt. Maj. Pia Thompson, helped mold me into a good Soldier. She also had confidence in my abilities and that was apparent when those of higher ranks would second guess my answers because I was only a specialist, and I couldn’t possibly be more knowledgeable than those senior noncommissioned officers. For goodness sake I had only been in the Army for a couple of years and I was supposed to be wet behind the ears. What could I possibly know?

Thompson wasn’t the only female Soldier who inspired me. Former Sgt. Carla Maddox, my former squad leader and platoon sergeant, always had a lending ear. She pushed me professionally and personally. If I had an excuse about taking time off from school she always had a reason as to why I shouldn’t. Her voice, as well as my mother’s voice, were always in my ear telling me the importance of education and having a college degree.

I know there were times when these women probably believed I wasn’t listening. When Maddox was my squad leader she had to make sure we completed certain tasks. She also had to sometimes tell me, “Just do it without saying you have a better way.”

I’m thankful for all the women I’ve met on my personal and professional journey. I’m not sure if they are aware how much they inspired and help mold me into the woman I’ve become. Their example showed me how I should conduct myself as a Soldier, mother and most importantly, a phenomenal woman.