Spc. Gennerra Norris

Unit: Fort Lee Dental Clinic Command

Place of duty: Mosier Consolidated Troop Medical Clinic

Military occupational specialty: 68E – dental specialist. According to www.goarmy.com, 68E professionals prepare dental operatory areas; select and arrange instruments; measure and record temperature, blood pressure and pulse; and assist dentists during patient exams, among other duties.

Hometown: Chicago

Age: 30

Time in service: 6 years active with time in reserve component

Describe your personality: “I think I have big personality. I’m very outgoing and outspoken.”

Pastimes: “I like to read, and I spend a lot of time with my children – or as much as I can.”

Favorite book: “The books I like most belong to a series called ‘Ethic’ by Ashley Antoinette. One of the main characters is from the same area as I am, and some of the things she feels and goes through in the book are things I can relate to.”

Favorite car: “A (Mercedes-Benz) G-Wagon.”

Favorite foods: “I love Chinese and Thai food.”

Pet peeves: “Nails on a board, scraping one’s teeth with a fork or smacking (food) – they just drive me crazy.”

Your greatest achievement: “Being a parent. I feel like sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing. My children are happy, though, and as long as they are happy, I’m happy. It all works out.”

If you won the lottery … “I would keep coming to work and act like I’d never won.” (Editor’s note: Norris said she’s too compassionate to evade those who might take advantage of her newfound wealth.) 

When and where were you the happiest? “My last assignment (in Wiesbaden, Germany) when I first arrived. That’s because it was like starting life completely over (following a divorce), and it (Wiesbaden) was really a nice change.”

If you could do anything, anywhere at this very moment, what and where would that be? “I would be in Croatia laying on the beach … with a margarita.”

One person you most admire: “My mother. She started her career late in life, too. She’s still pushing and striving. At the age of 40, she attained her Ph.D., and I think that’s phenomenal.”

The historical figure or celebrity you would like to meet: “(Actress) Taraji P. Henson – I can kind of relate to her. She started her career later in life; me, I’m getting back on board and starting back up a little bit late. So, I would want to find out things that helped her to be successful, and maybe, I can add them into what I’m trying to accomplish.”

Talk about your upbringing: “My stepfather was in the Army. My mom met him in Georgia. We then moved to Hawaii (on the island of Oahu), which is where I spent most of my childhood. Growing up, my stepfather instilled in me and my sister a sense of independence, to never rely on anyone to do anything for you. You needed skills or something to set yourself apart. That was big. My mother influenced us as well with her work ethic. She worked so many jobs alongside my stepfather to fulfill our needs and wants.”

Drawbacks to growing up military: “I personally feel like I can sometimes be a little detached. That’s because I’m so used to having to get up and move. It’s like, ‘Ok, you can’t give up too much of everything because you’ll have to leave.’”

One life-changing moment: “My divorce. It was something life-changing because I felt in order to truly get out of my situation, I needed that move to Germany. I needed to see different things and open up my eyes to really see what was in front of me. Had it not been for me knowing what I wanted, I would have never came back in, and I don’t think I’d be as happy as I am now.”

Why you joined the Army: “I initially joined (2008) – like most kids – to get out of my parents’ house. I wanted independence. I didn’t want to rely on them for anything and was tired of following their rules. Once I got (out of the Army in 2011), I found out it was something I really enjoyed. That’s why I came back in (2016).”

Why you chose your MOS: “I like working with people.”

What you don’t love about your job: “The long hours.”

What you expect from leaders: “For them to be fair.”

What you expect from peers: “To have some type of teamwork, especially in this job because sometimes you have to rely on others to help you.”

What it means to wear the uniform: “For me, the uniform means I’m a role model for my children.”

Best thing about the Army: “Everywhere you go, you can make family.”

Worst thing about the Army: “Moving; sometimes you’re not ready to go.”

Where you see yourself in five years: “As an NCO, and hopefully, as a recruiter talking to people like myself – single mothers or fathers – who want to do more with their lives.”