OTF Soldier Story for February 9, 2009 - Sgt. 1st Class Angela McKinzie
Current Unit: Defense Information School
Current Position: Journalism Instructor
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Fort Meade, Md.
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Years of Service: 12
Sgt. 1st Class Angela McKinzie considers her choice to change her MOS to Public Affairs Professional while reenlisting several years ago to be one of the best decisions she has ever made. She is passionate about creating connections through effective communications that take a variety of forms: news articles, photographs, e-mail newsletters and interview segments, to name a few.
In 2006, she deployed with the 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum and was stationed at Camp Striker, just outside of Baghdad. She served as Brigade Combat Team Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge and was responsible for managing media announcements, coordinating interviews and securing coverage for Soldiers in her unit. She also worked with a small but dedicated team to produce original content that included cover stories, photography and a monthly magazine for Soldiers and their families called Sandstorm.
While Sgt. 1st Class McKinzie's contributions earned her the reputation of standout journalist, her nurturing demeanor led to another type of recognition. "Most everyone I have worked with in the past calls me 'Mama McKinzie,'" she says with a tone that indicates a good sense of humor. "I have no problem with that as long as the mission is being done and my Soldiers are taken care of."
Like many NCOs, Sgt. 1st Class McKinzie's first commitment is to her Soldiers' well being. Therefore it is not surprising that when asked to give an example of a memorable interview, she mentions one particular opportunity involving an infantryman having just gotten back from patrol. He was dirty and tired, she said, but jumped at the chance to be live on the news that night, knowing he could quickly call his parents and tell them to tune in. In her work as a communicator and journalism instructor for the Army, she continues to be motivated by the satisfaction of giving Soldiers like this infantryman the chance to express their side of the story and the pride they feel in their work.
When Sgt. 1st Class McKinzie talks about her interactions with fellow Soldiers like this infantryman, it is clear that she takes a personal approach to her job. As indicated by her affectionate nickname, she feels a real connection between her work as a Soldier and the equally tough duty of raising two daughters. She believes that lessons learned in uniform inform how she thinks as a mom, and vice versa. "Being a mother has made me a better Soldier because it taught me patience," she said. And "being a Soldier who has deployed has made me a better mom because it has made me realize how important life is and that time with your children may not always be there."
Now back at home with her husband, Nathan, and daughters, Kylie (5) and Ava (almost 4), Sgt. 1st Class McKinzie remains dedicated to the power of communication as a journalism instructor at the Defense Information School at Fort Meade, Md.