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NEWS | Dec. 2, 2015

TRADOC soldier recognized as CCOY at AUSA

By Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Army Master Sgt. Donna Schwan, a career counselor for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Maneuver Center of Excellence Army Reserve component, was recently recognized as the Secretary of the Army Career Counselor of the Year at the 2015 Association of the United States Army Dwight David Eisenhower Luncheon meeting in District of Columbia.

While going through multiple levels of boards for the competition was a strenuous process involving physical, written and oral tests, Schwan said the experience was the pinnacle of her career.

According to Sgt. Maj. LeeAnn Conner, a senior career counselor with the U.S. Army and board member for the award, Schwan excelled in all areas of the competition which included a physical fitness test, written test and board presentation.

"During the board process, Master Sgt. Schwan had superb communication skills and demonstrated them with a broad range of knowledge in all areas," said Conner, adding that Schwan also proved to be an expert in her field through the written test. "She was very articulate and passionate in answering direct and open ended questions on tough subjects during the board."

For Schwan, her passion came not from proving her knowledge, but improving the Army, as the questions were geared more toward insight to create better processes within the career counselor field.

"They really wanted to know our input especially in regard to how it impacted our job," said Schwan, of speaking with Army leaders during the oral portion of the board.  "I valued that portion the most because a lot of people don't get to speak to those decision makers and have a voice."

Along with proving her devotion to service through the oral boards, Conner said Schwan's 27-year Army career, which began in the Women's Army Corps, also helped her achieve the CCOY accolade.

"Master Sgt. Schwan has been very successful in a broad range of duty assignments as a Reserve Component Career Counselor, which gives her an edge of experience," explained Conner. "She continues to push to better herself, such as being inducted into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club and completing Combatives level 2."

While Schwan said she had memorable experiences throughout her career, being recognized at the luncheon coupled with the journey to the award was the apex of her 27-years of service.

"At the Association of the United States Army forum, we were recognized by generals and dignitaries, which was an honoring, humbling and proud moment," said Shwan, who was handed the award by U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Chief of Staff of the Army. "I can never go beyond that experience -- that is the best."

While Schwan has reached what she considers the largest milestone in her profession, as a career counselor, she hopes to help and inspire others to better themselves and the Army.

"When opportunities do come, take advantage of them to expand your knowledge," said Schwan. "And networking; it improves your personal career, which you can later share with others -- that's more important than anything else, you have to pay it forward and share with others."