RICHMOND, Va. -- Private 1st Class TaQuesha S. Graves, 22, was sworn in to the U.S. Army Feb. 5 by her mother, continuing the tradition of Army service started by her mother.

Captain Mia L. Mayers, who currently serves as Operations Officer at the New York City Army Recruiting Battalion, was a significant reason Graves decided that an enlistment in the Army was her best career choice. She said she also received encouragement in her decision from her father Rohan Shields and her grandmother Merline Bills, both of Englewood, N.J.

"I feel very excited!" Graves said. "My mom has been in the Army since I was 2 years old -- it's just about all I've known my entire life. With all she has accomplished, I plan on being a mini-version of my mom. My mom has served for 20 years now and I want to walk in her shoes. She started out as an enlisted Soldier, served as a drill sergeant, completed Officer Candidate School, and now serves as an officer. I'm very excited to have the opportunity to serve my county as a Soldier and follow her example."

Additionally, Graves said that she chose to serve because of the outstanding benefits available in the Army.

"My kids are the biggest reason I'm doing this," Graves said. "I have two little boys, (DeTavious, 5 and DeYontae, 1) and one of my sons has some medical issues. By doing this, we will be getting some outstanding health care coverage. Besides the medical coverage, the Army will give us stability and I'll be able to build a foundation for their future; to provide them with what they need, and some of their wants too, and get them set up for success in life -- to get them through school and help them be better prepared to begin their careers."

Graves is a 2008 graduate of Menchville High School in Newport News, Va., and attended Everest College there, where she was in the medical assistant program. She said that she plans to continue her college education while in the Army. As a result of the college credits she earned and also by passing the Army's physical fitness training program while in the Future Soldier Training Program, she will begin her Army service at the advanced rank of private first class.

Graves recited the oath of enlistment during a special ceremony with her mother and the rest of her family at the Military Entrance Processing Station at Fort Lee, Va.

Graves enlisted for four years as a health care specialist, military occupational specialty 68W, and left following the ceremony to begin basic combat training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. She will then attend the 16-week 68W course at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. After completion of AIT she will begin her Army career at a yet to be determined Army installation.

As part of her enlistment benefits, Graves opted to participate in the Army's Partnership for Youth Success program, which will guarantee her an interview with the (participating) employer of her choice when she decides to leave the Army.

As an "Army brat," Graves has already seen a lot of the world. "As we have moved a lot whenever my mom got transferred, I've already been to Hawaii, Germany, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana and California, just to name a few places," Graves said. "I'm excited to get started on my new life," she said.

Graves was assisted in her enlistment by Sgt. 1st Class Yolanda Brown of the Army Recruiting Center in Newport News.

"Ms. Graves and a friend walked into my office one day," Brown said, "and she said 'I'm ready to go. What do we need to do to make that happen'? It was a pleasure to assist her in beginning a new career. She has a very positive attitude and that will serve her well in helping her achieve her goals in the Army -- plus she already has an outstanding role model to emulate."

The Newport News Recruiting Center is part of the James River Army Recruiting Company which is responsible for Army and Army Reserve recruiting operations in 10 counties and six independent cities of eastern Virginia, with recruiting offices in Newport News, Williamsburg, Yorktown and Gloucester.