By Tiamoyo Harris
CLC Cadet Sarah Feuerborn was cleaning her weapon in the day room of her barracks after a day of field training. She suddenly felt something hovering over her, and a saw pair of boots through her peripheral vision. She jumped to the position of attention only to be greeted by her mother, Col. Jami Shawley.
“I asked if I could kind of come over and just see the training facility, talk to some of the cadre, talk to some of the cadets about her experience,” Shawley said. “Coincidentally I wanted to see my daughter while I was doing that.”
After surprising her daughter, Shawley surprised her daughter’s whole platoon with a care package waiting at the post office and candy for them to enjoy while the cadets finished wrapping up their day. Shawley attended WestPoint, so she wanted to explore the curriculum and environment of ROTC. Currently she is a Reserve Liaison for the State Department in Washington, D.C., amongst the 14.6 percent of the officers in the Army. That might explain why Feuerborn had to take turns introducing a number of wide-eye cadets to her mother.
“They want to come over and pick her brain. She’s a great offset to have,” Feuerborn, a rising junior at the University of Missouri, said.
“I use her as a soundboard. She clearly did something right. Her opinion matters and her guidance is something I take very seriously.”
Feuerborn grew up in an Army lifestyle, living in Germany, D.C., Georgia, and Illinois with both her parents in the military. She attended 14 schools from kindergarten to 12th grade. The Army lifestyle is one that she grew acclimated to, but was not completely sold on for herself. However, once Feuerborn skipped her college’s Rush Week for ROTC Orientation, Shawley wanted to make sure her daughter knew she had options outside of the military. Freshly contracted, Feuerborn frequently looks up to her mother for advice on succeeding as a woman in the Army.
“If you’re good at it you know you can do anything that any of the guys can do,” Shawley said.
“I can’t even say my experience was completely different because I was a woman. Everybody has different challenges.”
While her mother’s status influenced her to join the Army, Feuerborn deceided she wanted to pursue a career in engineering after talking to engineers during Cadet Summer Training (CST). She graduates from training July 3, and her battle buddies are the highlight of her experience at Fort Knox.
“Out of all of this, having 40 people that didn’t know each other, come together as a platoon and successfully execute a mission is a great display of what the Army actual is.” Feuerborn said.
Shawley is a parent first, but says she was never highly concerned about her daughter’s decision to join the Army. She has even given her daughter her full support whether she decides to become Reserve or active.
“She’s a great leader. She’s tactically sound. She can shoot, move, she knows how to communicate effectively. We need people like her to lead soldiers. I worry about people like her not joining the Army.” Shawley said.