Guest speakers Jen Thompson, Joyce E. Perkins and Ann P. Garner, shared stories of how the willingness and persistence afforded them opportunities of life time at the annual Women's History Month luncheon March 23 at the NCO Club.

Students from Classical Communications of North East Columbia also shared stories of how they plan to make a positive impact on their communities.

Thompson, Executive Director of Lighthouse for Life; one of the first two safe homes in South Carolina for survivors of sex trafficking, said she persisted the last four years by opening the Lighthouse for Life home. Lighthouse for Life is a safe place for girls 12 to 21 years old who have survived sex trafficking.

Thompson disagrees with the thought process of valuing people based off of their title or relationship status to you; such as a mother or sister, wife, cousin or daughter and encouraged attendees of the luncheon to protect and value each other, just because.

"I persist in the idea that we should all value each one because; she is period, he is period and there is value just in the fact that you were born in the image of your creator." Thompson said.

Perkins, physician assistant at McWethy Troop Medical Clinic on Fort Jackson, spoke about how she persisted through with obstacles designed cause her failure.

Perkins, recalled joining the Women's Army Corp in 1974 and going through Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson as a Licensed Practical Nurse Civilian in Training. Having endured the disbandment of the Women's Army Corp, Perkins applied for Physician Assistant School on the suggestion of a senior leader and was accepted on her third try.

Perkins said she persisted through every obstacle and offered words of wisdom to the event attendees.

"In life be caring and kind because it comes back to you," she said. "Be prayerful because prayers are always answered. Most of all be persistent in life because by being persistent you will move forward."

More often than not, moving forward is not optional in the lives of service members, their spouse and children, she added. The ability to make the mental move once emotional roots have been planted, require resilience.

Students from Classical Conversations of North East Columbia, a home schooling group, performed a song about women gaining the right to vote.

Student Lydia Bothur shared her essay about her hopes and dreams of becoming an author.

"My goal in writing is to make people laugh and have a good time and change their thoughts for the better," Botheu said "I have great determination to be a writer. It can be very fun to write, writing will help me earn money so I can help the church my daddy pastors it will also help me make the world a more exciting and interesting place because of my books."

Garner, head of the Directorate of Public Works on Fort Jackson and self-proclaimed "dorky engineer," used graphs and graphics to illustrate positive tenets that helped her make it through life and persist.

"I had quite a few challenges persisting in my youth," she said.

Garner said her family was not wealthy so she babysat and worked at a peach shed to earn extra money to pay for school. It was here Garner offered her first tenet to a happy life, "Don't put the keys to your own happiness and success in anyone else's pocket."

Garner said she failed her first chemical engineering course her sophomore year.

"I was devastated; really because I was paying the tuition," she added.

Not willing to let anything stop her Garner said she looked into the co-operative education program and begin alternating semesters working for a chemical company and going to school. Garner persisted and completed her education by accepting the challenge to live her dreams.

Garner offered the same advice to the attendees.

"Will you choose to shatter expectations and contradict stereotypes with hard work and perseverance?" she asked. "Will you choose to see the yellow; the good and beautiful in life? Will you choose to be grateful, choose to be happy?"

These questions came with a challenge, a challenge that exemplifies why we celebrate women in history and women making history.

Garner challenged women to "woman up" and "star as the heroine in your own life."

The Women's History Month Celebration is an annual event; this year's event was hosted by the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School.