Driving to physical training each morning, U.S. Army Sgt. Glen Spence often finds himself listening to motivational podcasts featuring African American speakers and uplifting spiritual music.
"I like to be positive," said Spence, a noncommissioned officer, assigned to the Alpha Troop, Regimental Support Squadron, 2d Cavalry Regiment. "It helps me find my drive, and experience has taught me not to waste time on negativity."
Born into poverty in Jamaica, Spence is no stranger to disparity.
During his teenage years, he attended an all-boys school known for its harsh discipline. Students deemed to have misbehaved were typically brought to the office of the headmaster where they received corporal punishment.
Spence grew up in a rural town called St. Elizabeth where infrastructural development lagged behind the urban capital, Kingston, Jamaica. He remembered learning to read from his grandfather, and thereby, teaching his father and sister.
"We were dirt poor," said Spence. "I grew up playing soccer while barefoot."
However, his formative years instilled the strength that he utilizes to this day to confront and solve problems as a Soldier.
In 2013 at the age of 17, Spence moved to New Hampshire, sponsored by an uncle who lived there. He began taking classes at Concord Community College.
After his first semester, his uncle returned to Jamaica, leaving him without a solid foothold in an unfamiliar country. During this time, a negligent driver struck him while he was riding his bike, and the ensuing recovery left him with thousands of dollars in medical bills.
"I wanted more for myself," said Spence. And so, with just $50 dollars in his pocket, he decided to join the Army.
His was first assigned to Fort Bliss with the 47th Brigade Support Battalion.
With the 47th BSB, he completed a Bataan Death March and deployed for nine months to Kuwait, Iraq, where he served as the unit armorer. During the deployment, he broke his hand, but he continued his daily duties without any lapse in his performance.
"I've always had the drive to do more than just the bare minimum," said Spence. "If the minimum is all you're doing wherever you are, you don't belong there."
During his second and current assignment with 2CR, he won Soldier of the Month and Soldier of the Quarter boards with his squadron and subsequently won the regimental quarterly board, as well. His superiors have recognized him as a standard-bearer and role model to any Soldier who has crossed paths with him.
He hopes that his persistence and ambition will carry him far. His ultimate goal is to become the Sergeant Major of the Army.
Spence frequently repeats his motto, especially on difficult days, "The best way to get things done is not to worry about who gets credit for it."
Referring to the personal significance of Black History Month in his life, he counted among his heroes Marcus Garvey, a fellow Jamaican and civil rights activist, and Nelson Mandela, the first black president of South Africa known for his work to help end the country's apartheid system.
He concluded his remarks by recognizing the value of the Army's impact on Soldiers -- including himself.
"The Army's more than a family to me," said Spence. "They motivate me to push myself harder every day."