Eleven years after retiring from the military, Dr. Irene Trowell-Harris visits the Aiken County Historical Museum to find a corner recognizing her accolades. Even she's still amazed a little black girl growing up in Aiken, South Carolina could shatter unbreakable barriers of that era.
"I was determined," Trowell-Harris said. "I wanted to be successful, not just for myself though; for my brothers and sisters, my family, my church, my community, and my country."
One of 11 children, Trowell-Harris and her siblings helped her parents pick cotton to maintain their family farm.
"Because of the farm, with the cotton it only grows from September to December," Trowell-Harris said. "So many times we had to miss the early part of school. That was a big disadvantage growing up on the farm."
One day she saw an airplane fly over their cotton field. That's when Irene decided she wanted to be a pilot. With only a third-grade level education, Irene's parents knew that with hard work and perseverance she could be anything she wanted.
"She, my mother said the opportunity may not be here right now, but it's going to be there later," Trowell-Harris said. "And you need to be prepared and ready to walk in that door."
In quarters, nickels and dimes, her church collected $60 for her tuition to nursing school. Irene earned her bachelor's, a master's in public health from Yale University and her doctorate in education from Columbia. Still dreaming flying airplanes, Dr. Trowell-Harris joined the U.S. Air Force with the Air National Guard. The sky became her limit, working her way from flight nurse examiner to chief nurse executive to Major General, the first African American woman to earn the ranking. She'd hold that title until retiring in September 2001; never forgetting how she got to that point in her life.
"Because of that $60 and the people that supported me, I got silver wings, two stars; major general, a doctorate from Columbia, wrote a book, and became a white house political appointee," Trowell-Harris said. "Not bad for a country girl."
Dr. Trowell-Harris now works as the Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Women Veterans. Remembering her church and the 60 dollars that led to her success, she started a scholarship program at the church; inspiring others using her accomplishments to realize their dreams.
Sunday, May 19 2013 6:18 PM EDT2013-05-19 22:18:38 GMT
Aiken County deputies say they searched with New Ellenton police officers for two armed men who shot dogs on Sizemore Avenue on Saturday night. Aiken County deputies say they started searching for the suspectsMore >>
UPDATE: Neighbors are shocked after two suspects shot three dogs in a New Ellenton neighborhood Saturday night. More >>
Sunday, May 19 2013 4:20 PM EDT2013-05-19 20:20:12 GMT
One person has been transported to the hospital after being shot at Axis Barbershop in Beech Island. Aiken County dispatch said it happened around 2:30 p.m. Saturday. There are at least two suspects,More >>
Aiken County Coroner's office has confirmed that 32 year old Zann Worrell Jr. of North Augusta died at GRU Medical Center on May 18, 2013 at 3:37 p.mMore >>
Sunday, May 19 2013 3:11 PM EDT2013-05-19 19:11:10 GMT
Richmond County Dispatch confirms there has been a stabbing at a Family Dollar. Deputies say it happened on the 2900 block of Dean's Bridge Road around 7:18 tonight. Information is limited at this tiMore >>
UPDATE: Richmond County investigators said Tonya S. Terry was stabbed several times in the chest area inside the Family Dollar on Dean's Bridge Road Saturday evening.More >>
Sunday, May 19 2013 10:04 AM EDT2013-05-19 14:04:50 GMT
Richmond County dispatch received a call around 7:20 a.m. that the Millbrook Apartment building was on fire located off of Skinner Mill Road. Firefighters were on the scene until around 8:30 a.m. No injuriesMore >>
Richmond County dispatch received a call around 7:20 a.m. that the Millbrook Apartment building was on fire located off of Skinner Mill Road.
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:23 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:23:19 GMT
A fundraiser was held Saturday in honor of Wesley Spires. Local firefighters held a boot drive to honor their fellow volunteer firefighter who remains in critical condition after he was beaten by whatMore >>
A fundraiser was held Saturday in honor of Wesley Spires. Local firefighters held a boot drive to honor their fellow volunteer firefighter who remains in critical condition after he was beaten by what investigators said was a bat along the Augusta Riverwalk on May 3rd.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:05 PM EDT2013-05-18 23:05:19 GMT
Instead of spending the day at the computer, some Augustans spent their day learning about it. People gathered at the Imperial Theater for Web Afternoon. Mayor Deke Copenhaver gave remarks about Augusta'sMore >>
People gathered at the Imperial Theater for Web Afternoon. Mayor Deke Copenhaver gave remarks about Augusta's growth in the technology sector.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 5:55 PM EDT2013-05-18 21:55:44 GMT
Michael Robert Bradford, an employee of DynCorp International, has been killed in Afghanistan.Bradford was a Grovetown resident, according to information from a DynCorp spokesperson.The spokesperson toldMore >>
Michael Robert Bradford, an employee of DynCorp International, has been killed in Afghanistan.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 2:47 PM EDT2013-05-18 18:47:31 GMT
Georgia Power crews are working to fix power lines at William Few Parkway and Knob Hill that were struck from a car crash around 9 a.m. Saturday. Columbia County dispatch said two cars were involved withMore >>
Georgia Power crews are working to fix power lines at William Few Parkway and Knob Hill that were struck from a car crash around 9 a.m. Saturday.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 2:40 PM EDT2013-05-18 18:40:22 GMT
Richmond County Sheriff's Office released the following information in regards to Deputy Creech: Sheriff Roundtree and the family of Deputy Alton Daniel Creech would like to thank everyone within our community forMore >>
Funeral services will be held at First Baptist Church of Augusta, 3500 Walton Way Extension, Augusta, Georgia on Tuesday morning, May 21, 2013 at 11am. Deputy Creech will lie in state for one hour prior to the service.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 11:31 PM EDT2013-05-18 03:31:56 GMT
Hundreds of people sang through their grief Friday night as they mourned the death of Richmond County deputy Alton Creech. Two of Creech's close friends, who go by Solo and Ruff, say they've been unableMore >>
Hundreds of people sang through their grief Friday night as they mourned the death of Richmond County deputy Alton Creech.More >>