After graduating from high school, Vanessa Givens wanted more opportunity than she felt her South Carolina hometown offered.
“Our family didn’t focus on education. We focused on getting a job,” she said. “In Beaufort, there’s not many opportunities outside of being a cashier or working at a local department store.”
So in search of a better life, she and two friends enlisted in the military. She chose the Navy, which paid her way through Florida A&M University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting. After 21 years, she retired as a surface warfare officer.