Convocation Speaker Inspires Students To Believe in Their Dreams
Vernice Armour, first African-American Female Combat Pilot
LAKELAND -- (Sept. 22, 2010) Vernice Armour held FSC students spellbound as she told of her experiences in Iraq and the life lessons she took away from two tours in the desert, at the opening student Convocation on Wednesday morning.
Armour, the nation's first African-American female combat pilot, told a packed Branscomb Auditorium audience that life is all about transition -- whether it's moving from college to career or from military to civilian life. She urged students not to let obstacles stand in the way of pursuing their dreams, just as she didn't let gender or race stop her dream of becoming a pilot in the Marines. "Everybody has obstacles," she says. "Acknowledge the obstacles, but don't give them power."
She had the audience repeat a favorite catch-phrase: "You can break through your reality with a break-through mentality."
Armour spoke on her childhood dream of becoming a police officer, and about enlisting in the military Reserves to train until she was old enough to attend the police academy. "We have to prepare for our passions," she said.
She served as the first African-American woman on the Nashville Police Department. In 1999, at Fort Bragg during her Reserve duty, she met with an African-American woman in a flight suit who inspired her next dream: combat pilot. And so, at age 24, she joined the Marines. Her presentation at Convocation included many inspiring recollections of her rescue missions.
Now working as a professional speaker, consultant, and trainer, Armour challenged the students to reach deep, discover their passions, and share their talents. "You're like an attack helicopter, just loaded up with all the passion and talents inside you," she said.
Recognizing veterans in the audience, and asking for a show of hands of friends and families of soldiers of the military, Armour said: "We're all in this together. One mission, one goal, one team."