Many people start life in a less than opportune place. They yearn for something more IN their life, more TO their life, and must create opportunities for themselves.
I've felt the drudgery of the daily ritual, of work in a place I didn't want to be with a hot sun blistering me. Hard manual labor in the cotton fields, day in and day out, is just that; a painful grind. And though the opportunity to earn money to help my family was appreciated, those days in the field spent in sweltering heat, bending and pulling over and over again until even young muscles and joints became tired and ached, were difficult. I would look up from the work and be thankful for each and any small breath of wind that would bring even a moment's respite. And the thought of days ahead, just like that one, made me hope for something better in my life.
One day something crossed the bright blue sky, cutting a path beneath that merciless, brutal South Carolina summer sun. I raised my hand to shield my eyes from the light so I could follow it as it left a trail. Blinking the sweat from my eyes, I watched it twinkle-the metal of the airplane's fuselage and wings-until it climbed higher and was out of sight. That moment changed me, changed the course of my life, forever. I began to wonder about the world far from where I was-the cotton fields-and made a plan to see that world. This book tells of my journey.
- Dr. Irene Trowell-Harris
About the Author:
Dr. Trowell-Harris was the first female and nurse to command a medical clinic and first African-American woman in the history of the National Guard to be promoted to General Officer. She is also the first to have a mentoring award and a Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., Chapter named in her honor.
Born in Aiken, S.C., She is a graduate of Columbia Hospital School of Nursing, Jersey City State University, where she earned a bachelor's degree with honors in health education. She received a master's degree in Public Health from Yale University and a doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University.
She served 38 years in the United States Air Force and Air National Guard, retiring as a Major General in September 2001. She is the former Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Center for Women Veterans. Approved by the White House and reapproved with the administration change she served as director until September 2013.
She is the recipient of numerous awards, most notably the Air Force Distinguished Service and Legion of Merit awards; the Dr. James D. Weaver Society Award, named for the distinguished Pennsylvania Congressman and Air National Guard Flight Surgeon; the Eagle Award from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for her contributions to aviation; the Air Force Association's National Aerospace Award for Department of Veterans Affairs Employee of the Year 2010, given for the most outstanding performance of duty as a VA employee and her consistent dedication to the well-being of our Veterans, the VA Outstanding and Invaluable Service to the Community Award; and numerous Outstanding Performance awards.
She is a Charter Member of the Women's Memorial and in December 2013 established the Dr. Irene Trowell-Harris Endowed Leadership Fund at the American Nurses Foundation. The purpose of the Fund is to support leadership development of nurses - especially those with military experience and in non-traditional roles.