COL Sheila Marie McCarley, DNP, CRNA, is proud of what she’s achieved and committed to paying it forward. She shared her story with TANA in celebration of #BlackHistoryMonth 2022. “The picture of just me pays tribute to my ancestry and to my parents who inspired me,” she explained. “I am grateful for the motivation and encouragement they bestowed upon me!” Hailing from the formerly small town of Collierville, TN, Sheila said she “just may be the first African American Army Colonel born and raised there.” She still serves in the Army Reserves but plans to transition into retirement in the next couple of years. “Over the past 30+ years I’ve had the opportunity to excel in my civilian and military careers,” Sheila said. “It was not without struggles and obstacles, but here I stand, here I rise!” She recalls that when she decided to pursue a career in nurse anesthesia in the early ‘90s, she found it “a bit discouraging” to be told by certain program directors that due to her race the chance of being accepted into a CRNA program was very slim. “Needless to say, it just made me more determined!” Sheila said. “Today I’m ecstatic to see the wonderful diversity work being done by our professional organizations. I’m not taking anything for granted; just calling it all blessed.” Sheila currently lives in Eads, TN, and works at Baptist Women’s Hospital in Memphis where her main practice is labor and delivery. “I take great pride in any opportunity to speak to and inspire others to reach for the stars,” she said. “Whether it is at a church, high school, or university, each brings me joy to share my journey.” According to Sheila, the other picture is a DNP graduation photo shoot with a young lady who was born and raised in her church. “I’ve watched her grow up and now she is a nurse,” Sheila said. “Paid it forward…mission accomplished!” #BlackHistoryMonth

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