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Face of Defense: Army Runner Pursues Her Dreams

2nd Infantry Division

GYEONGGIDO, South Korea, Oct. 19, 2012 – The Army prides itself on recognizing excellence, and when it came across Spc. Shernette Hyatt leaders were astonished by her running ability.

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Army Spc. Shernette Hyatt, a supply clerk stationed in South Korea with the 2nd Infantry Division, is a world-class sprinter and graduate of St. John's University in New York City. A native of Jamaica, Hyatt is determined to represent her country in the Olympic Games. U.S. Army courtesy photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Hyatt began running when she was 5 years old while she was living with her grandparents in Jamaica. While her grandfather wanted her to pursue her running, her grandmother forbade it. However, Hyatt’s grandfather would secretly time her as she ran to the store, watching those times steadily decrease.

One day at school, Hyatt ran a sprint with her friends, not knowing her grandmother was walking by the school at that exact moment. Hyatt beat all her classmates with ease, and her grandmother saw everything.

As her grandmother approached, Hyatt apologized profusely, tears streaming. But, to her surprise, her grandmother gave her a big hug.

“I am so proud of you. I didn’t know you could run like that,” Hyatt’s grandmother said. “Don’t let anybody take this from you. This is your strength.”

Moving to Long Island, N.Y., at the age of 13, Hyatt continued to hone her running skill throughout middle school and high school, making a name for herself in the athletic community.

She eventually accepted a full track and field scholarship to St. John’s University in New York City after completing her associate’s degree at Nassau Community College and earning two MVP awards in the 100-meter and 200-meter dash.

Hyatt eventually competed in Jamaica’s Olympic trials, placing fifth. Unfortunately, budget constraints limited the number of athletes on the roster to only four. Hyatt was left out.

To continue her quest for athletic glory, Hyatt joined the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association. To financially support herself during this time, she began filling in as a substitute teacher in Florida.

Despite her continued athletic success, events in her personal life forced her to put running on hold. Soon after, she joined the Army. While serving as a Warrior Division supply clerk with Company B, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, her hopes were rekindled when she learned of the Army World Class Athlete Program, an opportunity she hopes to pursue in the near future.

Hyatt was recently inducted into the Nassau Community College’s Athletic Hall of Fame, and the National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame.

“I love where my life has taken me, from being a running child to the proud soldier I am today,” she said.

As she leaves South Korea during her upcoming permanent change of station move to Hawaii, Hyatt offered this advice to other Army athletes. It is the same wisdom that has served as her inspiration for most of her life.

“This is your strength. Don’t let anybody take it away from you,” she said.


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