CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE Q-West, Iraq - Sgt. JoAnna Menzie Davis, a noncommissioned officer in charge of awards for the 16th Sustainment Brigade, set some personal goals during her deployment here - one of which included publishing a book of poetry.

She accomplished her goal when the first shipment of twenty copies of her published book arrived here March 19.

"I was astounded," Davis said. "I knew that all my hard work and dedication had paid off. I was elated. And I knew I could not stop there."

Davis said the poems in her book, written under the pen name Jodi, aren't directly from her experiences but are triggered by events in her life.

"They're poems from living, seeing, knowing and understanding," Davis said. "I can't say they're particularly from my life."

Davis, with the help of Spc. Erin Smith, a graphics artist with the brigade public affairs office, published the 49-page glossy book through a self-publishing service called Lulu.

According to the Lulu, the book is about growing up.

"'From Within' comes from the challenges and obstacles we all face as we grow from a young adolescent into an adult," reads the description of the book on the website "Life is filled with so many twists and turns that to understand and capture as many as possible [sic]. Here is a tribute to all who have been in these shoes!"

The multifaceted noncommissioned officer overcame many obstacles in her life. She said her mother left her and her siblings when they were young.

"I was told she left when I was around one-and-a-half," Davis said. "I don't remember much about those years - phone calls, a visit or two, but I don't hold it against her. I don't think I'd be who I am today if she'd stayed."

Davis, raised by her father, James C. Menzie Sr., followed in his footsteps from attending the same school as her father, Southern Normal School, Brewton, Ala., and participating in various sports while growing up.

Throughout her school years, Davis played basketball, volleyball, tennis, ran track, and even debated.

Upon graduation, the driven NCO attended Wayne Community College and the University of Detroit-Mercy where she obtained a bachelor degree in developmental psychology. In college, she continued playing sports where she starred as a wide receiver, corner back, tight end and line backer for the Detroit Demolition, a womens professional football team in the National Women's Football Association.

Later, her new career allowed her to work with developmentally disabled children, teaching at a public school, and working with in adult foster care until she enlisted in the Army in August 2006.

"Situations told me it was time for a change," Davis said. "If I hadn't joined the Army, I wouldn't have been able to finish my book, pay (off) my car (note) early, or have the opportunity to meet my husband, Marcus Davis, whom I married after we deployed together."

Although Davis said she misses her three children, she is making the most of this deployment. Davis hopes to release a second book of poetry this year and finish her studies to obtain her master's degree.