I joined the military in 1997 because of a primal need to do something important for my country. I have always been the kind of person to strive to be the very best at everything I truly believe in. Becoming a Ranger as part of the Special Operations Community was a logical extension of that innate ethos. What I didn’t understand at the time was just how regulated and regimented that lifestyle is. To be the best, a Ranger needs to not only have knowledge of everything from the wear and appearance of his uniform to the complex operations we conducted but also had to be able to apply those regulations in a high intensity and dynamic environment. Attention to the smallest details and the implications they hold in an ever changing hostile environment could mean the difference between life and death for not only my rangers but for myself as well so it was imperative to get it right the first time, every time.
Later in my career I was offered an opportunity to become a sniper which I embraced whole heartedly and earned the title of Top Gun in Sniper School. This assignment would really test my limits and push me to improve my critical thinking and analytical skills. Having to make split second decisions based on observed situations while applying stringent rules of engagement as well as protecting my team is not how it looks in the movies. One small miscalculation means the difference between complete success and total failure. This is how I lived every day for countless operations far from home. As if this wasn’t enough of a challenge, I started a family. Coming to the end of my second enlistment I had one of the most difficult decisions to make staring at me, continue my military career or be there for my little girl while she was growing up. I chose to never miss her birthday again.
Coming home and starting life over is a formidable task under the best of circumstances, but the best case scenario is never how things seem to work out. I answered an ad in the paper for a position with a health insurance firm so I could try to continue serving people in a much friendlier environment. Within a year of working there I had become the highest producing licensed agent at the company and was literally teaching the company’s employees the ins and outs of insurance law as well as state specific regulations. Being licensed in 38 states, I became the authority of compliance practices as a result of attending conferences with industry professionals and developing standard operating procedures which would keep the agents safe from legal issues as well as maximize client satisfaction.
I was promoted to the office of compliance director before my second anniversary. Dealing with multiple state regulating agencies, agents and clients on a daily basis was both challenging and rewarding. Controlling a team of attorneys we hired lightened my work load to an extent but with the changing landscape of the insurance industry I still felt a hands on roll was necessary. The legal team I put together was amazing to say the least and it was a huge compliment when they would look at my work and how I resolved disputes and tell me I needed to go to law school because I possessed the analytical skills for it. Under my watch the firm had only two major disputes, both of which I was able to settle amicably with not only the clients but also with the authoritative agency.
Although it was evident at this point that I was destined for life in a legal profession, I was asked by a friend to help build a program to keep our men and women in uniform safe when they deployed overseas. This was my chance to give back to the military that helped me hone my skills so how could I say no. Over the next few years I helped develop and teach a training program geared toward preparing non-combat personnel for the rigors of operating in hostile environments. Just like my time in uniform, adherence and enforcement of governing regulations and procedures was paramount to effectively leading these young men and women through a mentally and physically demanding course of instruction. Teaching complex concepts as well as their physical application made me strive to improve not only how my students executed but also how they thought about the processes they needed to master. However, after some time I began to feel that although this was a great honor and very fulfilling but it wasn’t actually challenging my intellect or my reasoning skills which prompted me to continue my education.
I began taking as many courses as I could and found that I was drawn to people and sociological issues. I knew very quickly that if this is what I really wanted, I needed to devote all my time and energy to being the best student I could be so I enrolled in college classes full time while keeping my goal of law school in focus. Half way through my first semester I needed more so I became involved in various clubs on campus. In keeping with my fervor for helping others, I decided to become more active with the student veterans at my school. Within a month, I had become a driving force for our group which had been relegated to the periphery of campus life and was in danger of dissolving altogether. I began organizing activities and developing relationships not only within the club but also with other students and faculty in order to bring attention to the value and diversity the veteran population provides to the university as a whole. After only one semester I had been voted in as vice president of the Student Veterans Organization and doubled its membership. Under my leadership, I have not only highlighted the importance of nurturing the university’s relationship with its veteran students but I have also brought to the forefront how beneficial this minority is to campus life. Having attended conferences on a national level where industry giants such as Google, Microsoft and Disney are targeting the veteran population to fill positions throughout their organizations, I have shown the University that veterans are a tangible and in demand commodity which they cannot allow to fall by the wayside.
I feel strongly that one should never walk away from a situation without having learned something. Fortunately, all of these life experiences have taught me a multitude of lessons not only about what I want out of life but about how I can use my extensive background to help make a difference in society and people’s lives when they need it most.
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