Welcome and thank you for stopping by! This is the next iteration of our series to honor and share the stories of empowered women, fulfilling roles as leaders in their country. The mission of this project is to inspire, educate, and connect women who are currently serving or considering serving in typically male dominated professions such as military, police, or fire service. Over the next ten weeks we will share the stories of ten amazing women who have served, or are currently serving our Nation, providing unique perspectives into the inspiring realities of these women's lives.
If you would like to contribute to our project and share your story through Valkyrie Performance, please email me at email@example.com
Corporal Shanice Lashawn VernonJackson
Ground Combat Supply, United States Marine Corps
1. What do you appreciate the most about being a woman in a male dominated field?
What I appreciate the most is being able to be that role model for other females, and even some males who think they may not be able to do what we do in the military. A lot of people have the perception that most male-dominated fields of work or sports are not available for women to be a part of. When in reality, these professions are open to them, and in fact, women do very, very well in them if they put their mind and focus towards what they want to accomplish. I am grateful and humbled by the notion that I get to be an outlier in the female community, and inspire other women, and young girls and let them know that honestly anything is possible if you focus and most importantly believe that you can do it.
2. As a woman in a male dominated field, what challenges do you regularly face and how do you overcome those challenges?
Some of the regular challenges are when your male counterparts honestly think you can’t do what they do. Or for some with very closed minds - that you are not worthy of the opportunities that they have, simply because you are a female. Additionally, there are challenges that most don’t really think about, and the main one is the mental aspect. You must be stronger mentally than your male counterparts, to have that edge on them. As women we are expected to be smarter, more mature, and more receptive to things that go on in life. I feel like women honestly have more on their plates than males, in a male-dominated field. We must prove every day that we belong. The cohesion can be an uphill battle at times with some of your peers more than others. I feel as though that is based on the individual and not necessarily the job itself. Overall women should push themselves to be as mentally and physically strong as they can be, in order to be accepted in their chosen field. To overcome those challenges, you have to know yourself the best you can, and improve where you lack. I think having an understanding of your own motivations and drive is also extremely important. Understand why you are there, and how you want to leave your mark, big or small. At the end of the day if you are there with the intention of being a productive human being in the work place and in life, the challenges will not outweigh your progress. No matter where you go you will be challenged, but its up to you on how you respond to them. I stay true to myself, and that is all that matters.
3. What practices do you have, to re-center yourself when you’ve had a tough conversation or someone has given you an ungrounded assessment or unsolicited advice?
I honestly try to look at the situation from as many angles as I can, to best assess my thought process on the issue/topic/conversation. When I was younger maybe I would say that I didn’t care, or it didn’t matter, but now being older I choose to respond to a situation, rather than react towards it. I feel like for a lot of things when dealing with other people in your life, it comes down to how well you know yourself. You try to determine if the topic of conversation is worth your thoughts, and if you were in the wrong. If so, that could be a positive criticism and there may be something you need to change, and if there is no reasoning behind it-maybe give a rooted explanation as to why you may disagree with that person. If the advice is just out there and unrelatable it could also be that the person giving the advice really does not know you at all. I try to see their point of view and then think about how it made me feel and why it made me feel that way, good or bad. Then I try to have a conversation about it.
4. What are your top 3-5 priorities in life? How do you make time for the areas you value most?
The top 3-5 priorities in my life would have to be my health, my family, my fitness, my friends, and my career. Honestly trying to make time for all is a legitimate struggle sometimes. But for me if I don’t have these priorities and know why I do them, I wouldn’t be as successful and grounded as I am today in my life. Being in the military is very hard, especially the Marine Corps. Trying to balance all the things in life, it can get a bit foggy sometimes. But with my health, I must be healthy in order to do all of these things. Health to me means mentally, physically, and spiritually healthy. My family is my literal foundation of my life and my success. I try to make them a priority as much as I can, and if I am not there physically I use other means of communication to stay in touch and be somewhat involved as much as I can. My fitness is so important to me, it has been important to me for most of my life, my fitness is important to me because it is my own, no one can give it to me, or take it away from me. My fitness is simply what I put into it. My friends are a safe haven like with my family. They show support and love when needed, I feel that human connection is important for a healthy lifestyle. I love my friends and I would do anything for them. My career is very important because there you can show your strengths and attributes on being a motivated and hardworking individual. For the Marine Corps, you literally earn everything you get out of the organization. You get what you put into it. And that’s very important for myself and people in the future if they decide to stay in or get out. The work never stops. Improvement is infinite
5. While serving, what has been your biggest personal victory? What about the best organizational/team victory and why?
I think the biggest personal victory thus far in the Marine Corps has been, to reach people and inspire them as much as I can, and have their positive energy give me strength and a sense of humility. You will meet so many people in your time in service, some relationships will stick more than others, but you will also have that opportunity to reach people. To hear people say I inspire them or motivate them is a great thing. I think to myself, “I am just me” but to others you can be so much more. I have had my successes already in the Marine Corps, and I feel like I have had them because I have fully applied myself to get to where I am today. Another personal and organizational victory I had was when I got to be a part of the Marine Corps Wrestling Team. I am the second female in the Marine Corps who was on the All Marine Wrestling Team. For me to be able to finally get there after years of hard work and patience it was a great experience and showed me a different side of the Marine Corps as well. I will always want more from myself and do the best I can, so when I do decide to leave this gun club I am happy and sound with what I have left in the organization.
6. Do you feel like you have found your “life’s purpose/calling” yet, or do you still feel like you are continuing to discover and unravel what unique gift/niche you bring to the world?
I don’t think I have fully found my complete calling yet, I love to coach wrestling and help others, but there are other areas where I want to give myself completely, and they are still kind of unknown at this moment. I still have a lot of drive to become a professional athlete again, in MMA or being heavily involved into strength and conditioning, whether that’s CrossFit or Powerlifting. When I do think of my calling, I do see myself as a professional athlete, and I know it is doable. I want to be able to show the world and other females that anything is possible if you apply yourself, give yourself that time to improve and master what you practice. We live in a country where literally anything is possible. I see myself pursuing my own dreams and helping others as much as I can in the process. I feel like I am server deep in my heart, and after the Marine Corps I plan to do law enforcement, and later apply to the U.S. Marshals to serve my community and nation while in the reserves.
7. How do you combat negative self-talk, and pick yourself back up from failure?
One quote I always refer to is this:
“Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. The courage to continue is what counts.”- Winston Churchill
Failure is not final, and I do not think failure really exists unless you give up completely. I don’t feel like I have really failed at anything, but that each time I have learned a great deal. I have come up short a lot in my life, but I have also succeeded at feats beyond explanation as well. You must have that mental fortitude to honestly pick yourself up and continue on. You are not meant to succeed in everything you try. Without short comings you will never know the true meaning of success. If it is seriously important to me I will find a way. And if I need help from others I will seek it. The cliché answer is that everything happens for a reason. While you are going through a rut, it is hard to recognize, but I’m better from the suffering. You adapt to your environment, and you evolve; you become a more superior human being. I just never give up. I can’t and wouldn’t be satisfied if I did.
8. If you could describe yourself in 3 words what would they be? If others described you in 3 words what would they be? Are they congruent with the way you think you are portraying yourself in the world?
For myself I would say: humble, hardworking, and caring.
If others where to say 3 words to describe me, I think they would probably be: focused, driven, and loyal.
I believe the three words to portray who I am, and who I try to be for the people in my life. I am determined to accomplish my own goals, but with that I want people to rise with me, not behind me. Everyone has the ability to be great.
9. What changes would you like to see in the next 5 years for women in male-dominated environments?
I feel that women’s equality is very important, but with that we can not lose sight of how we should be as women in some respects. We should be strong, determined, and independent, but not to the point where we give off the stigma that we don’t need a partner. Partnership is very important in my opinion and should be respected. For male-dominated environments, that is a very hard stigma to overcome. The rise of women empowerment in just the past few years has exploded, but with that I feel like it should be like anything else. If the female is qualified for that specific job and can literally hold her own, then yes, I believe she deserves that spot. I just don’t want to see a trend of females getting positions in the male field because they are just that, or a poster child for recruitment. For this line of work, it is literally a means of life and death and I don’t think that should be taken lightly just because of political reasons. Women should have every right just as men do. If they can do the same job, the same tasks without a major risks to health and performance, the job should be theirs. I want to see females be more self-confident, and not settle because of what their family, partner, co-workers, or boss says because they are a female. The stigma of women having to be perfect, or they are not good enough needs to be disowned. Women empowerment is a beautiful thing, but it needs to be furthered with the right intent.
10. What advice would give to your 19 year old self? Or to a young woman starting her journey of serving our Country?
I would say that she should never give up on her own dreams and aspirations. I’d tell her to be open-minded and have some tough skin, because not everyone is going to agree with you or have your back in times of trial and friction. 19 is a young age to really know yourself and who you want to be. I am going to be 26 this year and I still feel lost some days with myself and how I think things should be. I would tell her to not swim with the sharks and if she does, to tread lightly. Show the men you mean business and that you are their equal, not beneath them. Be a team player and help everyone around you succeed and be competitive. The service is not easy, but never forget your “why.” Never forget why you joined in the first place. Do your service honorably and have no regrets once you decide to leave, no matter if that’s after 4 years or 20. Learn as much as you can, take in as many moments as you can, and help others. Be true to yourself, your family, and your country. And enjoy the service and the people you are bound to meet. And welcome to the gun club.
Again, if you have questions or would like to share your story with Valkyrie, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org