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NEWS | Aug. 18, 2016

From runway to rucksack: Army Reserve Soldier displays versatility

By Sgt. Rebecca Newton 206th Broadcast Operations Detachment

FORT MEADE, Md. - Growing up the only child in a single-parent household, without a car, Spc. Monique O’Neill and her mother walked nearly everywhere in Albany, New York.

Her mother taught her to be strong, and compassionate. Her big, bright smile reveals that, and more. She describes herself as positive. “I’m always looking for the good in people,” said O’Neill.

In high school, O’Neill played volleyball, but knew then she wanted to join the military. Attracted by the structure and challenges, she first completed her degree in Marketing and Management.

Thirsty to explore other cultures, she moved numerous times, to include New York City; Seattle, Wash. and Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas where she accepted modeling and acting jobs.

Seeking an outlet for her creativity, and building upon her degree, O’Neill enlisted in the Army. Her hopes of landing in public affairs, however, were deflated when she learned those particular occupational specialties were full.

She accepted a position as a 42A - human resources specialist. Two years later, she was able to transfer to a public affairs unit.

“My heart draws me to public affairs,” she proclaims. “It’s where I can be creative!”

She says the members of the 206th Broadcast Operations Detachment in Grand Prairie, Texas, were very welcoming. “When I first walked through the studio, I knew I wanted to become part of this unit.”

She continues, “being around these intellectuals is unlike any other unit in the Army I’ve ever encountered. It’s amazing to see people who still love their MOS [Military Occupational Specialty] even after years on the job.”

Now that O’Neill is assigned to the 206th, she must complete Advanced Individual Training to become a 46R – public affairs broadcaster.

Currently a student at the Defense Information School, commonly known as DINFOS, O’Neill is learning how to write and edit broadcast copies, preparing for on-air delivery. She will also learn how to shoot and edit video, as well as radio operations.

Located at Fort George G. Meade, Md., DINFOS, trains service members from all branches of the military.

Course offerings include: broadcasting, journalism, public affairs and visual information.

O’Neill loves it. “Classes are engaging and challenging. All of the instructors are passionate and excited about what they are teaching. Plus, they are always available.”

Describing the training as “state-of-the-art,” O’Neill is excited about what opportunities may become available to her for civilian employment.

For now, the job hunt is on hold as she continues with her courses at DINFOS, and will graduate in December of this year.

When asked about what she looked forward to once graduating from the course, she says she is looking forward to more bonding with her unit, creating her very own projects and telling the Army story; oh, and playing some sand volleyball.