Sharon "Cookie" Corcoran is happy she signed up for the AMC Fellows program.

"It's changed the way I look at things," she said. "The program has showed me a different side of the military."

Corcoran had worked for the military for many years. She began as a cook, later working her way up to a secretarial position. Her desire to continue moving up saw her moving between several installations over the years.

"I worked at Fort Hood (Texas)," she said. "Prior to that I was at Fort Bliss. Prior to that, I worked in Germany for eight years. I started as a cook, but I worked in supply and I worked in accounting before I became a secretary."

At her last post, she worked as a secretary in the Asian-Pacific directorate of U.S. Army Security Assistance Command's Fort Belvoir, Va., location for three years. There, co-workers and members of her prayer group encouraged her to enter the Fellows program.

"I had the opportunity to see a number of interns come through USASAC on their rotations. There were a number of people there who encouraged me to do it," she said. "They told me to do whatever it takes. To just buckle down and do it."
Joining the program is not as simple as it sounds, however.

"They recruit around the country at different colleges. I was worried I wouldn't be able to do it," Corcoran said. "The competition is fierce. It's a three-step interview process and you can be dropped at any time in it."

She went back to college to finish her undergraduate degree first. Upon entering the program, she was able to finish the master's of science and business administration program of Texas A&M in one year. Corcoran did so while working full time and caring for her daughters, teenage Kristen and Air Force Tech Sgt. Terri.

"She (Kristen) is used to moving every three or four years for my job," Corcoran said. "She knows it was all a part of the road to get here."

As a Fellow, Corcoran is working three 13-18 month rotations of training through on the job assignments. Through fortuitous circumstances, she was able to come back to USASAC for a training rotation in September. Although she has no guarantee where those rotations will be located, she hopes to spend more time with the organization.

"I should be able to do all three rotations here," she said. "I really wanted to come back to USASAC."

She currently works as a policy specialist. Corcoran has been relocated to Redstone as USASAC moves here. Adjusting to a new place along with a new job has had its ups and downs, Corcoran said. As she and younger daughter, Kristen, settle in they are trying to get involved in the activities that make them both feel more at home. Both enjoy community service projects and active involvement in church.

"We want to put down roots here," she said. We're looking for a church home with a great youth program for my daughter. I'm looking for volunteer opportunities. I enjoy tutoring in math and science, too."

Corcoran is also training to run a half-marathon soon. She laughs that she is still on the lookout for a running buddy.

Although it has taken a lot of work to get this far, with more coming down the road, Corcoran said it has been worth it.

"I've met a lot of interesting and very knowledgeable people," she said. "I've learned a lot. The program is very challenging. I've prayed about it and I know it's not through my own strength and my own smarts that I'm doing this. It's not about me. It's something bigger."