February 3, 2018

Latonya Wilson is a veteran and a breast cancer survivor. She earned a Mission Continues Fellowship in 2017, where her dedication to service shone brightly. Here is her story, and why she is exemplary of the values of our dear friend Mark Weber and the Mark Weber Award.

Latonya enlisted in the United States Army at the age of 17 and served for nearly 13 years, with deployments to Korea and Afghanistan under her belt. After separating from the military, she served overseas as a government contractor for nearly eight years.

During this time, she was diagnosed with breast cancer twice and underwent numerous surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation.

By 2016, Latonya was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. Many people might have given up at this point and been resigned to living out their days in search of relative comfort and peace.

But not Latyona. Inspired by the values she developed in the Army, Latonya dedicated her life to service again. She volunteered with The American Cancer Society, visiting VA Cancer Treatment Facilities to inspire and encourage female cancer patients, fed the homeless at shelters, and assisted a senior housing facilities with daily activities.

In addition to this substantial amount of volunteer work, Latonya went on to form her own foundation, Cherished Hearts Breast Cancer Foundation, traveling throughout the country to speak about her experiences to inspire other women. Latonya also found time to continue her education and worked toward her goal of earning a graduate degree in human resources.

Still not satisfied with her level of giving back, Latonya learned of The Mission Continues Fellowship Program from her local Veterans Employment Representative and immediately applied.

She was accepted to the Bravo Class of 2017 and selected the Columbia, SC Urban League as her host organization. At The Urban League she conducted workshops on job search, assisted individuals with their resumes and also coordinated job search activities for clients.

During her time as a fellow Latonya underwent two surgeries and additional treatment. Despite her hospitalizations and treatment, Latonya went on to assist over one hundred clients complete admissions and financial aid paperwork and be accepted into college, helped more than 30 clients prepare resumes, and helped more than 100 Urban League Clients obtain full-time employment.

Despite her challenges and obstacles, Latonya finished her fellowship on time and with a total of 675 hours.

She wrote, “After getting out of the military this gave me a sense of being needed. Having stage IV cancer, some people tend not to ask me to do anything because they don’t want to bother me. But I’m okay and still want to serve and be needed. You allowed me to do so and placed a smile on my face — and I worked this program the best I knew how. To you this might be small, but you allowed us to continue to look forward to something. Thank you so much.”

For these reasons, Latonya Wilson exemplifies the qualities of a fellow and has completed her fellowship in the best traditions of the Mark Weber Legacy Award.

 

Report for duty in your community with The Mission Continues. Serve with a Service Platoon at an upcoming service event near you or apply for a fellowship. You can learn more about our programs on our website and stay updated on the latest news and announcements on Facebook and Twitter.