By: Elayseah Woodard-Hinton
Photos Submitted by: Sharolynn Harper
Making the decision to join the Military saved her; serving in the Army taught her how to take control of her life.
Sharolynn Harper admits that part of the reason she joined the Army was to escape her turbulent surroundings and provide a better life for her children. However, she received so much more from her experience in the Military than she expected.
In the early stages of her Army career, she was posed with a question by the First Sergeant of her Advanced Individual Training that changed the trajectory of her life.
On the very first day of AIT, Sharolynn had to go in front of the First Sergeant after getting into a scuffle with another enlistee. Noting that both Soldiers were wrong, The First Sergeant asked Sharolynn what she felt would be a suitable punishment.
Instead of speaking up for herself, she left the decision to the First Sergeant who then proceeded to hand down a list of severe reprimands, which included a reduction in pay and restriction.
Once she heard what the First Sergeant had in store, Sharolynn immediately spoke up to say she felt the punishment was too harsh.
The First Sergeant responded by reminding Sharolynn that she was the one who gave the permission to do whatever she thought was fair. The First Sergeant went on to give the new Soldier this piece of advice:
“She said never let another person have control of your life,” Sharolynn recalls. “If somebody asks you a question, tell them the truth of what you think is fair.”
“From that day on I very rarely put my life in someone else’s hands. I took control of myself,” explained Sharolynn.
After 10 years of serving her country, the Knoxville, T.N. native left the Army instilled with the confidence to create and conquer her own personal missions in life.
It became necessary for her to put this skill to use after being overlooked a number of times for a management position within her current career field of telecommunications.
Although she was often praised by her superiors on her work ethic and expertise, she could never seem to land the management positions that she desired. She felt her leadership experience as a non-commissioned officer in the Army along with her work ethic should be enough to get her the job.
However, after receiving feedback that she lacked the educational requirements needed to move to the next level in her career field, She quickly made it her mission to do what was required to get the job of her dreams.
Instead of letting a few rejections stunt her career growth, Sharolynn took control of her life by using that feedback to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree; and soon after she earned her Master’s.
Because of her diligence and hard work, she is now an operations manager with Verizon Wireless where she and her team work with a variety of telecommunications technology to help keep the network strong.
U.S. Army Veteran Sharolynn Harper’s Keys to taking Control of Your Life:
(2:10) Sharolynn talks about her Military experience and the important lesson she learned from her First Sergeant as a new Soldier.
(8:45) What life was like immediately after the Army.
(16:36) The necessary steps she had to take in order to advance in the civilian sector.
(23:22) Sharolynn’s advice for Veterans seeking leadership positions in the civilian sector.