Copperas Cove resident wins coveted spot in U.S. Navy Officer Candidate School
Copperas Cove resident, Sabrina Carter, 27, suppresses an endearing giggle when friends call her a ‘late bloomer.’ Poised, articulate, and deliberate, this slightly built woman with a café au lait complexion, ringlets of shoulder length curls, and ebony eyes isn’t in military uniform yet, just faded blue jeans, a floral blouse, and tennis shoes.
She could be any university student anywhere in the world, but she is here in Central Texas, a recent alumni from A&M-Central Texas, and – even more recently – a named candidate for Officer Candidate School, Officer Training Command, United States Navy.
And that’s a long way from where she began – all the way across the country on another coast.
Born and raised in the rolling hills of Northern California and the East Bay, Carter graduated from San Leandro High School in 2009, taking on multiple and simultaneous customer services jobs where she scooped ice cream at a Baskin Robbins, worked the customer service counter at Avis and Budget, ran the register at the Dollar Thrifty, and served omelets, hamburgers, and coffee to the night owls who frequented the Denny’s restaurant during her graveyard shift from midnight to eight a.m.
After relocating with her husband to Fort Hood in 2014, Carter enrolled in Central Texas College, finishing a certificate of completion in criminal justice and then an associate’s degree.
By 2016, she had transferred to A&M-Central Texas, majoring in psychology and earned three more associate’s degrees from Central Texas College: general studies, interdisciplinary studies, and social sciences.
Working as a supervised visitation monitor for ACCESS in Killeen and volunteering at a local hospice in 2018, Carter sensed that the timing was right to try joining the military.
“Back when I graduated from high school, I told my uncle that I wanted to join the military,” she said. “But he told me that I should get my college degree first. And I remember thinking, ‘Okay, but if school doesn’t work, I’m joining the military!’”
Her family had a history of military service including an aunt and an uncle in the Army, a maternal grandfather in the Navy, and a sibling, Kayla Walker, 24, in basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, with eight weeks to go before being formally assigned to military intelligence.
Going into the process, she knew there were 500 other people competing for the one thing she wanted: a spot at Officer Candidate School.
“The recruiters all told me that my chances were slim to none,” she said. “They were looking for candidates with medical or engineering degrees. But I had to try. I knew it was what I wanted to do.”
Taking the nearly 50-page application under her arm, she navigated a battery of physical exams and intellectual aptitude assessments that tested more than her intellect. On one of the exams, she fell three points short of the score she needed. On the second, Carter earned those hard-fought three points and, after officially beginning the application process, she was introduced to a new mentor: LTJG Meagan Morrison, U.S. Navy.
“The recruiting officer, Petty Officer Fullwood, couldn’t find a female recruiter for me to talk to,” Carter observed. “But he kept looking and found LTJG Meagan Morrison on her Facebook account. He introduced us to each other and her advice was invaluable. She had gone to OCS and is now an officer, and she shared that experience with me.”
Along with her husband, she leanred the news on April 22 that she had been accepted.
“My husband is my biggest reason to do this,” she said. “He’s an employee at the HEB distribution center. I want to do this for him so that I can return all the support he’s shown me throughout the years I went to school. It’s his turn to relax a little and my turn to step up.”
The newest officer candidate prepares to report to Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island in the next three days. Atop her list of things to do, she says, is a haircut. As an officer candidate, she said won’t have more than 10 minutes to get ready during training. What little time she will have, she adds, won’t allow for high maintenance morning routines. There’s a nation and the U.S. Navy to serve.