We caught up with one of Atlas Cops and Kids' most successful grads, Jelicia Allen, from her post in Virginia, where she is attached to the USS George Washington, four years into her five-year contract with the Navy.
What inspired you to join the Navy?
What inspired me to join the Navy was the environment that I grew up in. I was born and raised in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and I knew that I wanted change and to do something different that separated me from my peers, so I thought joining the military will help me do that, and it did.
How did Cops and Kids help you achieve your goal?
Cops and Kids helped me achieve my goal by helping me everyday mentally and physically. I had a goal to drop weight. Coach Quiro, Coach Maria, and Coach Sarah helped me to do so. Going to the gym helped me to stay focused. I was tutoring everyday for the ASVAB, going over math because that was my weakness. Mentally, the gym helped because I had lost a lot of belongings at a time during Hurricane Sandy. Cops and Kids helped me mentally to keep pushing forward despite the storm (literally). Finally, when I lost my mother suddenly right before leaving for boot camp, Cops and Kids definitely helped me then also with encouraging words, extending arms, and just simply showing up to my mother's funeral.
Boot camp was different. I wasn’t expecting it to mentally push me the way it did. I went in with a “New York attitude,” thinking it wouldn’t phase me, but slowly and surely I found out real quick. My RDC’s were very strict and didn’t play. It definitely opened my eyes and pushed me to the limit, facing different scenarios that never in a million years I thought I could face.
What have you learned from your travels?
I've learned about the world from my travels, the different cultures and the different people in each country, how they differ from the States. I went to England, Bahrain, Dubai, Singapore, and Hawaii. It was a great experience.
Tell us about the work you do. What is your favorite and least favorite part of your job?
My job in the Navy is an aviation ordnanceman. We deal with assembling and disassembling bombs. My favorite thing about it is that it’s cool, tough, and the AO community is deep. It’s a lot of us: one big family. The least favorite part of my job is not being able to say what I really want to say at times, holding your tongue when something frustrates you, and also dealing with different types of leadership.
Shortly after you enlisted, your mother passed away suddenly. How were you able to deal with this loss and still stay focused on your goals?
Sometimes I don’t even know how I even dealt with a situation so difficult. I still amaze myself to this day. I took it real hard. I became angry, sad, and distant with everyone. I prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed and asked God to guide me. I just thought of all the things my mother told me and how she raised me and the advice she instilled in me. I used it to fuel me each and every day without her. I had to wise up and do what was right and be there for my little sister to help the both of us. I also had people that I met in the military that I became real close with, and they too helped my journey to stay focused.
What advice do you have for other young people considering joining the armed forces?
I would say to do a lot of research, and if it’s something you really want to do, you have to push forward and actually put your mind to it. STAY FOCUSED. NO DISTRACTIONS AND NO NEGATIVITY. Remember why you're doing it to begin with and let it stick with you always.
Is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?
I would like to tell the readers that no matter what circumstance you may face, there’s a reason for everything. You might not see it now, but you have to keep pressing. Always remember: Struggle builds character, and never forget where you came from. Stay blessed.