FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Aug. 12, 2021) -- During the work day, information technology specialist Spc. Tajzee Strong images computers, ensures network connections are working, and verifies that Soldiers’ computer accounts are up to date.
When she’s not providing computer support as part of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery, she like any Soldier, has interests outside the Army.
For the Milwaukee-native one of her avocations is competing in pageants. It’s something that she only recently began.
Last year while she was a civilian and a college student, Strong received a mass mailing encouraging her to apply for the Miss Wisconsin pageant. She did some research and decided that she would instead try out for the Miss Black Wisconsin pageant.
At age 21, on her first pageant attempt Strong won against 15 other contestants. “It opened up a whole section of the world I didn’t have any experience in,” she said.
As Miss Black Wisconsin, she would spend the year performing community service, making promotional appearances, and giving appreciation awards throughout the state.
In the role her personal platform was as a spokeswoman for minority women, minority communities, and children in foster care. She was a foster child.
Her message to children is that things will get better in life.
“A lot of the middle schoolers don’t understand why everything has to be so hard now,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of conversations with them and say, ‘Look past it. Trust me, it gets easier.’”
Reflecting on her reign she said the experience made her a much better public speaker, and improved her camera presence.
She completed her undergraduate studies in 2020 at American Intercontinental University majoring in forensic science.
Strong, who was prior Army, returned to the service June 30, into her original Military Occupational Specialty 25B, information technology specialist.
“I missed not having to worry. Living in Milwaukee can be a little dangerous. In the military if anything crazy happens there is an entire family one phone call away,” Strong said. “And, there is the steady paycheck – COVID can’t bother that. And, the health care.”
Strong said her Army training and experiences have definitely helped her in pageants.
“One of the first things I learned in the Army was not to be afraid to fail, to continue trying, and never quit,” she said. “That’s basically what I’ve been doing with pageants.”
Conversely, she said at times she has to use her smiling pageant face in the Army.
“Sometimes you have really stressful days in the Army, but I’ve learned how to smile through those,” Strong said. “Smiling helps bring my spirit up.”
Army competitions and pageants also have a similar camaraderie, Strong said.
“It’s OK if one of the other girls does better than you. You still support her and are happy for her,” she said. “Just like in the Army you may not get promoted this go-around, but you’re happy for your battle (buddy) who did, and they’ll help you get promoted.”
Her fellow Soldiers know about her pageant adventures and they seem excited. She said some of their comments are: “Wow, you have to wear dresses,” and “How uncomfortable is it to go from wearing combat boots to high-heels?”
Strong said some of the male Soldiers treat her like she’s frail.
“Oh, I let them,” she said with a laugh. “If you want to hold that door open for me, you go right ahead.”
Strong participated in the national Miss Black USA pageant Aug. 8, in Washington, D.C. In the pageant’s program her bio stated that she is a Soldier.
Although Strong didn’t make the finals, she said she gained much from the competition.
“You don’t always win at everything, but you can take pride in what you did,” she said.
Strong said she will continue competing and has potentially eight more pageants lined up.