FORT KNOX, Ky. – Practice makes permanent is a phrase that is often heard among the non-commissioned officers in the field during Cadet Summer Training, however no Cadet understands this phrase more so than a prior enlisted Soldier. By going through basic training and understanding the enlisted side of the Army, prior enlisted Cadets often have a more well-rounded military mind set as well as practical experience to rely on.
Cdt. Jennifer Messina, 9th Regiment, Advanced Camp, coming from Berklee College of Music in Boston, is a prior enlisted Army Reservist from the 94th Army Band. Affectionately nicknamed “Ma’am Drill Sergeant” on her first day of training, she is the embodiment of the enlisted Soldier drive.
Having enlisted when she was just 18 years old, Messina made her way through basic training as one of the youngest in her platoon, before she was selected by the 94th Army band in Connecticut for her premier musical abilities.
Since then Messina has performed the National Anthem on behalf of the United States Army Reserves dozens of times, on platforms such as the Boston Bruins championship games, as well as for many Army ceremonies. At Berklee College of Music, Messina has gone on to study music industry and entertainment law, the latter of which is her ultimate career goal.
By joining Liberty Battalion in Boston, Massachusetts, as a Cadet she aims to be promoted to 2nd lieutenant within a year as a JAG officer. At home, Messina serves as the battalion’s Company XO and personally trains a select number of first-year Cadets to reach both their physical training and personal military goals. She also mentors young girls in the International Order of the Rainbow, a Masonic youth group which specializes in teaching leadership through community service.
When asked what keeps this young woman so motivated, the answer was simple.
“You have to give 110 percent in everything that you do,” says Messina. “Anything less just won’t work. Rely on your battle buddies, but never forget to rely on yourself.”
Messina has gone on to successfully navigate some of the more daunting tasks of Advanced Camp here at Fort Knox, including the Rappel Tower, Confidence Course and the beginning few nights in the field for overnight training. According to her own Cadre from Liberty Battalion, there is no doubt that this is the woman to watch.
Lt. Col. Tim Ferguson, Liberty Battalion Professor of Military Science, says Messina’s determination and drive make her a force to be reckoned with.
“Being prior service gives her the inside knowledge she needs to be a good example for the younger Cadets,” says Ferguson in regards to the rising senior. “But it’s the way she conducts herself that makes her strong, and that’s what will make her a strong officer.”
There is no doubt that this young woman will go on to do great things – not just in the Army, but in life.