Sgt. Felicia Jagdatt, assigned to 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team 1st Armored Division, earns a coveted seat at Syracuse University Newhouse School’s Military Visual Journalism Program. | Photo By Stephanie Santos
There’s an incomparable force of energy that always travels right alongside this dedicated Soldier as she readily takes on new challenges and excels during her assigned missions.
It’s a passion heard in her voice and an intrigue seen in her eyes. These positive vibes define her as she continues to raise the bar and motivate other service members to follow her lead.
Her energetic passion is what led Staff Sgt. Felicia Jagdatt, who serves as the public affairs non-commissioned officer in charge for the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, to earn a coveted seat in the Military Visual Journalism Program at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School.
This 10-month curriculum focuses on teaching its students to become better storytellers taking courses in communications, photo and digital journalism, photography, design, sound and documentary production. Upon completion, students will earn 30 credits of college coursework.
Jagdatt competed among her peers for one of only four Army slots awarded to public affairs professionals. She will begin her course of study this summer, and said she is looking forward to starting this new chapter in her career.
“I was so excited, and at first I couldn’t believe it,” she said, “It took a while for me to absorb everything, then I ran to tell my commander and called my family members.”
The 28-year-old expressed that she is not only hoping that this experience will enhance her storytelling abilities to tell the U.S. Army’s story in our society’s ever-changing information environment, but it will also help her become a better leader to mentor her future Soldiers.
“Our future is information-and a big part of every war is information skills,” said the New York native. “I want to become a better mentor and teacher to our Soldiers. Any person that has a skill-and then develops that skill-becomes an asset to the entire Army.”
This fast-paced noncommissioned officer is no stranger to hard work. She monitors her career progression and personal goals through detailed Excel spreadsheets. She said these reminders keep her career path goals on track and within reach.
“I use these spreadsheets daily to stay challenged and competitive. These stats help track where I should be at this point of my career. It puts my ‘Why’ into perspective and keeps me moving,” she said.
So how else does this seven-year Army veteran stay motivated? By telling the Soldier’s story!
As a military public affairs professional, she says that taking photos, producing videos and writing stories is her passion, as well as getting to know each Soldier and bringing their story to light.
Although she has already earned her Master’s degree in Policy and Government, Jagdatt said she ‘loves the idea of going back to school’ and is ready to take on her new role as a communication and journalism student.
“This new experience gives me a chance to indulge with my peers from all of the branches of service, share my perspective, and learn from theirs,” she said “I want to absorb all the pockets of the military. This will help me experience the moving and diverse pieces of this puzzle that makes us so powerful.”
The Newhouse School’s Military Visual Journalism program has four competitive slots throughout each of the Armed Services including the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy. The goal is to cross train each student, take them out of their comfort zone and bring their storytelling skills to an advanced level to share with other service members and better communicate the military’s story with the American people.
One of the key pieces leading to Jagdatt being considered for the program was her strong application, which included a firm print and video portfolio, as well as letters of recommendation from senior leadership. She has been recognized by the El Paso community as well as Army leaders assigned to Fort Bliss.
Capt. Lindsay Roman, the public affairs officer for the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, described Jagdatt as hardworking and professional. Roman said that although has only worked with Jagdatt for less than a year, she has seen this NCO grow. “She always keeps herself one step ahead and brings her ‘A game’ to the table every day.”
Jagadatt’s key mentor throughout the application process was Master Sgt. Alex Licea, assigned as the NCOIC for the 1st Armored Division’s Public Affairs office. Licea said her passion, motivation and great personality emulate what every leader looks for in a Soldier and NCO.
“She’s a self- motivated, positive force who is consistently growing and learning,” said Licea. “Jagdatt is not afraid to ask for advice and guidance, and she is always looking to challenge herself. I know she will continue to grow within the public affairs career field and our Army.”
Throughout his 17 years in the Army, Licea noted that he has trained Soldiers across the globe, and Jagdatt stands out as being one of the best Soldiers and junior NCOs he has ever mentored; demonstrating all of the attributes to become a future leader.
“I know that she will move forward and this broadening opportunity can elevate her to the next level. She is meant to be a future leader and is completely dedicated to telling the Army and the Soldier story,” said Licea. “If she continues on this path, without a doubt, she is a future sergeant major.”