Claflin grad persevered to rise in Army ranks

Jan 25, 2018

FRI claflin convocation Twanda Young (002)
Brigadier General Twanda E. Young addresses the Claflin convocation. (Panther photo by Bradley Harris)

Claflin alumna and Brigadier Gen. Twanda E. Young gave students “nuggets” of wisdom to use as they matriculate and go into the world.

Young, the first female from the Army ROTC program at South Carolina State University to achieve the rank of brigadier general, was keynote speaker at the Jan. 25 Claflin University Convocation ceremony.

“My mission today is simple. To share a few moments, three nuggets, that I believe are vital for visionary leadership and necessary skills for the 21st century,” said Young, a 1989 graduate who participated in the Army ROTC program at Claflin through the cross-enrollment agreement with S.C. State.

Young said the three nuggets are:

  • “Visionary leaders are accountable for their actions.”
  • “Visionaries seek to build up, not tear down.”
  • “Visionary leaders are risk takers and willing to own the outcome of failure or success.”

Young also told students to develop an attitude of service because it will be beneficial.

“Be of service to others and not just yourself,” she said. “Serving others helps you grow and helps to leave a positive legacy after you.

Young shared what she calls her “base of the repel tower experience” in order to show students that they must persevere through their lowest moments.

Her experience happened when she was told by her battalion commander that she had no right and there was no place for her in a man’s Army.

“I pulled from within myself and shared with him, with my knees shaking, that I would be there when he retired,” Young said.

Young later said she persevered to become one of two black female general officers currently serving in the U.S. Army Reserve. She made her words come true.

“I walked up their proudly on the day that he retired. I smiled. My shoulders stood back a little bit stronger. My handshake was a little more firm, and I said, ‘Thank you for your service, enjoy the next chapter of your life.’”

Young said she hopes that what she shared with students will encourage and ignite a fire in them to keep focus on their goals because they are at an important moment in their lives.

“I hope that you make the most of your time, understanding that you hold our future, the essence of our future, livelihood and well-being in the palm of your hand.”

Young has served in command and staff positions in the continental U.S. and Hawaii with First Army, Joint Forces Command and the U.S. Army Reserve Command. Young has also served in Afghanistan.

Among many accomplishments, she has received awards including the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Staff Badge and the Airborne Badge.

She currently serves as the deputy commanding general for the U.S. Army Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

As a 1988 Distinguished Military Graduate of S.C. State ROTC, Young continues the legacy of the program that marked 70 years in 2017.

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