By Sgt. Larry BarnhillJune 12, 2013
FORT BLISS, Texas - Elegance and ambiance filled the room as the ladies of the U.S. Army Sergeant's Major Academy class 63 converged in a sisterly setting to enjoy refreshments and get a glimpse of local goods and services available to keep them beautiful in today's Army.
The ladies of USASMA class 63 hosted the "Brunch at Tiffany's Symposium" April 27 at the Centennial Club here where they viewed presentations from Mary Kay, Selah Salon and Spa, Dillard's and Dress Barn.
Representatives from Mary Kay and Selah Spa and Salon enlightened the ladies to cosmetics and pampering services while Dillard's and Dress Barn representatives displayed fashion options and allowed some of them to model their merchandise.
Always having to take care of soldiers throughout their careers, they received insight on how to take care of themselves in a garrison setting and when they are in a deployed environment.
The information they received at the symposium will be passed along to other female soldiers.
"This symposium is designed for us to take care of ourselves because we can't overlook skin care and maintaining healthy hair downrange," said Master Sgt. Wanda Vereen, a class 63 student, from Holly Springs, Miss.
In a class of approximately 650, these ladies make up about 10 percent of the student body and represent a small percent of senior noncommissioned officers in today's Army.
The women of class 63 are well on their way to becoming part of an elite sorority of noncommissioned officers like Sgt. Maj. Pamela Wilson, a 28-year veteran from Chicago who is slated to become the first ever Chaplain Sgt. Maj. for Installation Management Command (IMCOM) upon reporting to Fort Sam Houston.
"It's definitely a man's Army, being a female, I had to show a lot of confidence and competence which allowed me to turn my struggles into strengths," said Sgt. Maj. Wilson. "Having a master's degree as an E-4, I was more educated than most of my superiors."
"In 2008, I was diagnosed with diabetes and thought it was the end of the world but resiliency kicked in and made me aware that I needed to take care of myself," said Master Sgt. Monekia Denkins, president of class 63 from Houston who was Military Times Soldier of the Year for 2011.
Denkins added, "Being a single parent was difficult while on instructor and drill sergeant duty but God always put people in my life to help during times when I had to report to work before the daycare opened."
"The soldiers I've worked with were spectacular," said Denkins. "Now is the time to give back to my soldiers, I am their example."
With civilian education becoming more prevalent for advancement in the modern Army, it's becoming more common for USASMA students to hold bachelor's degrees and higher.
Master Sgt. Patrice M. Glover, a student, from Birmingham, Ala. is working on a master's degree in business management via Excelsior College, a night program available to USASMA students.
"I'm motivated by my children; to be able to provide for them and set a good example," said Glover.
Not only are these ladies leaders in the Army, some have used their military leadership qualities to start and lead foundations.
Master Sgt. Elizabeth Siplin, a 22-year veteran and student at USASMA from St. Petersburg, Fla., is a domestic abuse survivor and founder of Second Chance Empowerment Foundation which supports domestic violence shelters.
"Becoming a Sgt. Major means that I'm becoming the voice of the unheard," said Siplin. "I am an example for young people to survive domestic violence and become successful."
As the symposium drew to a close, certificates of appreciation were presented to representatives for their presentations, the representatives passed out coupons for their services, and a tiffany colored cake with a bow was cut for the ladies enjoy the sweet taste of sisterhood.