By Jonathan Stinson, Redstone Rocket assistant editorNovember 18, 2019
Nickie Owens has traveled more than 1,600 miles over the past four years and 10 months to end up at Redstone Arsenal.
Her journey started in Collins, Mississippi, which is where she learned she wanted to help others.
"My family was hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2007," she said. "That disaster transformed our way of life."
She was in sixth grade at the time and recalled being without electricity, food, running water, and all of the comforts people get used to.
"The Mississippi National Guard was there, and they were handing out MREs," she said. "That was the first time I had ever seen an MRE … So, that was kind of like a little pinpoint in my life (that made me think) 'Oh yeah, people are great out here, people in uniform.'"
That moment would stick with her, and later in life, when she was trying to figure out how to pay for college, she chose to put on a uniform and help others.
Today she's enrolled in college, a sergeant working in religious affairs, and has a 3-year-old named Lailah, who she said can be a little diva at times.
There's nothing easy about raising a child, but Owens has relied on her family's support and utilized some of what Redstone has to offer to help with it.
"It can be very difficult with time management and making sure that she is OK because I can't up and go anymore," she said. "So, I have to make sure that she has the support she needs if I have to go to training or any TDYs."
One of the programs Owens loves is the daycare program at the Child Development Center.
"They taught her to potty train, brush her teeth, and they taught her to be more independent."
Mothers naturally tend to want to do everything for their child, so the program also taught Owens how to help Lailah be more independent.
"They taught me to have her do her own things like brushing her teeth, bathing herself," she said. "With them teaching me how to go day-to-day and let her do the things like picking up something off the floor and taking it to the trash without me trying to do it for her, and that helped me. She wants to help me do everything, so I let her do it."
Lailah also had a speech problem when she was younger, but since Owens was in the Army, she was able to get her into the Exceptional Family Member Program.
"The workers at CDC were looking at her and knew that something was wrong, and I knew something was wrong also, so they helped me get to resources I needed to help her with her speech."
Six months later, Lailah was speaking clearer, and Owens was grateful the CDC was there to help them out.
Owens said she plans to make a career out of the Army.
"I'm proud of what I do. I love wearing this uniform every day, and Redstone Arsenal is a great place to raise your family."