By Jacqueline M. HamesApril 24, 2008
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 24, 2008) - On the 100th anniversary of the Army Reserve, a re-enlistment ceremony at the Capitol turned into a surprise reunion for a Soldier and the man she credits with changing her life a decade ago.
Staff Sgt. Shawnda Bass, one of the Soldiers re-enlisting Wednesday, was reunited with her recruiter, retired Sgt. 1st Class Clifton Magwood.
Bass didn't know her former recruiter was going to be at the re-enlistment ceremony, and said she was "overwhelmed" with the surprise meeting and excitement of the event.
"I couldn't believe it," she said, "But seeing him was like yesterday."
The camaraderie within the Reserve is stronger than any fraternity or sorority, Bass said. The Army is a good place to figure out what you want to do in life, and to "grow into the person you were meant to be," she said.
Originally from Washington, D.C., Bass has come full circle from her troubled adolescence to a role model Citizen-Warrior. She attributes a large part of her success to her recruiter's persistence in convincing her to join the Army Reserve.
In a video interview provided by the U.S. Army Reserve Command, Bass told the story of her youth. She was a troubled teenager -- when she was 14 her parents divorced, and she eventually had to move from one home to another.
"With that comes a fair amount of getting yourself in trouble," she said.
Bass lived in group homes throughout most of high school, getting arrested frequently and spending some time in jail.
During her senior year of high school, Bass joined the Army.
Bass heard an announcement students would be excused from class to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. Unprepared for a test in her next class, she decided to take the ASVAB.
"I was like, that's what I'm signing up for!" she said.
Bass scored very well on the ASVAB and didn't think anything of it. She thought that would be the end of her involvement with the Army. But the recruiter present at her testing, Sgt. 1st Class Clifton Magwood, persisted in getting the reluctant teenager to come back and see him.
Magwood, interviewed separately, said he wanted to motivate Bass to do something positive, whether it was joining the Army or going to college.
"She was going down the wrong path," he said. "I wanted to do something before the streets got to her. She was very bright."
"He held my hand and took me through the processes (of joining). I'm glad. I'm glad he persisted. I think that is why I am where I am, because of the people in my life that persisted," Bass said of Magwood.
Initially, Magwood wondered if she would stick with the Army. Her success validates his time as a recruiter, he said.
"She's come a long way - it was real good to hear that. It lets me know what I did was worthwhile," Magwood said.
Bass joined the Army as a medical lab technician. Now she is a registered nurse, living with her husband and daughter in Lubbock, Texas. She has re-enlisted in the Army Reserve for three years and serves as a medic with the 400th U.S. Army Hospital.
"I just hope that something I do or have done has an impact on somebody else," Bass said. "Then I've paid it forward."
To see the full video interview with Bass, visit www.dvidshub.net, and search using keyword "Bass, Shawnda."