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Alumni Stories: Writing from Adversity and Healing Trauma

By John Robert Morton, Student and Affairs Liaison, and Jakia Lindley, AMU Graduate

Jakia Lindley

Jakia Lindley grew up in a close and supportive family. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, she later moved to Canton, Ohio, living with her mom and two older siblings in a single-parent household.

Growing up, her grandparents, stepmother, uncle and father figure were instrumental in her upbringing. In total, Jakia has four sisters and two brothers, and they all have a strong bond.

Jakia always had a love for storytelling, and her favorite subject in school was creative writing. Her teacher enjoyed receiving her assignments, as she would often get lost in the stories that Jakia created. She encouraged Jakia to follow her passion and in the 6th grade, Jakia submitted her first poem, which was published in a compilation book series.

Joining the Military

Jakia joined the Air Force in 2010, right out of high school. She did not come from a military family, so her decision to join the service was a shock to everyone in her family.

However, their unyielding support is what helped Jakia with the many challenges she faced in the military. In the military, Jakia learned new skills and experiences that shaped her into who she is today.

Going to basic training in San Antonio, Texas, was the first time Jakia had ventured out on her own. Military life was a complete culture shock, and most of the time, Jakia felt like she was having an out-of-body experience. Jakia laughs, “It turned out to be one of the best experiences that, to this day, I think about for a good laugh!”

Becoming an Airman

After joining the Air Force, Jakia was assigned to the 437th Supply Chain Operations Squadron. She managed equipment support, valued at over $727 million, for four Air Force Global Logistics Support Center bases. 

Jakia is currently a material control supervisor for the 25th Air Support Operations Squadron at Wheeler Army Airfield in Hawaii. This squadron provides tactical command and control of airpower assets to both Air and Land Joint Forces Combatant Commanders for Combat Operations.

Jakia directs maintenance for 23 Tactical Air Control Party unit type codes, ensures the readiness of 81 weapon systems and manages $55 million in mission-critical equipment. In this role, she also purchases and tracks two million dollars’ worth of communication system equipment to support the 25th Infantry Division for 13,000 troops.

During Jakia’s career, she has participated in several military exercises. She has also been deployed to the Middle East and Southeast Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Jakia earned a certification in the Master Resiliency Program and is also a Six Sigma Green Belt and a Certified Department of Defense Sexual Assault Volunteer Victim Advocate.

Becoming an Advocate and Writing a Book

When Jakia first arrived at her official duty station, she suffered hazing, harassment and abuse. Without her family nearby, she felt isolated.

The experience changed the direction of Jakia’s life and gave her challenges she was not equipped to handle. She soon found out that the Air Force legal system didn’t provide much help for her.

This situation made Jakia determined to not continue suffering in silence and also became the foundation by which she operates today. Jakia’s work as a sexual assault volunteer victim advocate, activist, resiliency coach, and writer all stem from her military and life experiences.

She also wrote a book, “War at Home.” This book outlines her experiences and calls for reform to the military justice system to offer better support for survivors of hazing, sexual harassment, and domestic violence.

These days, Jakia’s goal is to advocate for policy changes to the Department of Defense sexual assault and family advocacy programs. She hopes that changes in these programs will provide better support and resources to survivors of assault and domestic abuse.

Seeking an Education That Fitted Her Military Life

Before enrolling at American Military University (AMU), Jakia previously attended a few other colleges where she took one to two classes before disenrolling. Balancing shift work, preparing for deployments, and having an unhealthy relationship at home due to domestic violence made it nearly impossible to focus and keep up with the demands of higher learning.

When a coworker suggested AMU, Jakia was amazed by the flexibility and ease of scheduling classes that allowed her to learn at her own pace. She immediately filled out the application and was contacted by the Student Services Department two days after submission.

Jakia says, “The process was easy, and I had dedicated assistance throughout the entire process. After all of the documentation was received, I began registering for classes the following month!”

Jakia’s initial plan was to study criminal justice, which aligned with her future dreams. But as her life evolved, she shifted her focus toward a degree in technical management.

This change in her degree program fueled her desire to create a company whose mission is to give voice to the voiceless, empower people who want to inspire others, and champion the people who want to better our world. This desire led her to found Moving Mountains Publishing.

Providing Guidance

Jakia says, “Every day, I learn new things about myself and what I am capable of. I unlock new skills and reach new milestones. Where I am today is not somewhere I ever could have imagined.”

She adds, “I turned my pain into a passion to help others. Adversity is one of life’s greatest teachers, and the growth and perspectives I’ve learned have been invaluable to not only myself but to serve others.”

Jakia shares her accomplishments with others to help inspire them. She observes, “In my life, there have been some accomplishments more notable than others, but I cannot define my greatest accomplishment.

My greatest accomplishment is a culmination of small and large achievements, which have allowed me to be a better mentor, director, speaker, writer, and mother. I show gratitude to each one of my leaders, mentors, family, and friends, who have helped me achieve my goals and shaped me into the woman I am today.”

Jakia continues, “If you aspire to join the military or become an author, know that there is no ‘magic’ formula to success. Understand that both paths require hard work, dedication, perseverance and a willingness to learn from mistakes.”

Advice to Future Students

Some of the best advice that Jakia offers is to seek a mentor who will challenge and push you outside of your comfort zone. She says, “Learn how to be a good follower while also developing skills to lead.”

Mentoring can help with many areas in life, whether they involve personal goals, professional goals, military service or school. Jakia encourages current University students and graduates to explore mentoring resources and use them.

Jakia says, “In the military, a person must be physically and mentally prepared to handle challenges and work as a team. To become an author, find your ‘why,’ cultivate a passion for writing and commit to honing your craft.

“Do not be discouraged by inevitable setbacks, but rather use them as opportunities to grow and improve. Whether it be through serving your country or sharing your unique perspective with the world through writing, always strive to make a positive impact and stay true to your values.”

Jakia notes, “The world can take away everything from you, but the one thing they cannot take away is your education. An educated mind is one of the most valuable resources to have in life.”

About the Author

John Robert Morton is a Student & Alumni Affairs Liaison and has been with the University for 13 years. His bachelor’s degree in European history is from Troy University in Troy, Alabama. He also completed master’s degrees in political science and sports management from American Military University. As a liaison, John Robert enjoys helping students and alumni to achieve their personal and professional goals.

About Our Department

The AMU and APU Alumni Affairs Office is dedicated to sustaining lifelong relationships with university alumni by providing engaging opportunities to stay involved and connected. We work closely with a variety of stakeholders to strengthen the alumni experience and to offer a variety of benefits, services, activities, and events throughout the year.

As a team, the Alumni Affairs team works to build and sustain relationships with alumni along their personal and professional journeys. We actively look for ways to recognize and showcase alumni, telling their stories to motivate and encourage students in the pursuit of their goals.

If you are a member of the alumni community and are looking for ways to remain actively involved, please contact and speak with a member of the team.

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