RAPID CITY, S.D. — Erin says being the first South Dakota Army National Guard Drill Sergeant is a huge honor but came from 11 years of hard work and self sacrifice, strong physical and mental health. and pushing herself out of her comfort zone.
Erin says, “It’s day in and day out working hard and building that trust and rapport with my fellow soldiers and leaders so it is hard in the sense that it is not an overnight thing so you gotta have the long haul goal.”
Erin is a member of the Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion and serves as a drill instructor for the Recruit Sustainment Program, which prepares new enlisted recruits for Basic Combat Training.
She knows her leadership is crucial to the success of those she trains, saying, “You have that ability and that role to influence and mentor today’s young recruits ya know South Dakota’s sons and daughters. The South Dakota parents entrust their children with us to raise their children into the best solider they can be in the South Dakota National Guard.”
She joined the Guard after receiving her graduate degree because she felt called to serve her country and make a difference.
“I feel like my calling is to mentor and to be a role model to younger people or even to my peers and being a drill sergeant, like I said that is the epitome of a role model, you have the ability to influence these young recruits for the rest of their lives and influence how they themselves are going to see leaders, how they themselves are going to be a leader and that is tomorrow’s Army and if I want to leave a lasting legacy on anybody else’s life, this is really the best way to do that is to be a positive influence on them and that is why I wanted to do that.”
Erin also graduated with honors in the course – achieving the Commandant’s List – placing her in the top 10 in her class out of 107 students.
When she is not serving in the National Guard, Erin works as an engineer with the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Drinking Water Program in Rapid City.
Fagnan has developed her own company, Powerfully Equipped, LLC., and uses her military and civic sense of duty along with her professional achievements to promote resiliency through speaking engagements.
Staff Sgt. Erin Fagnan, of Rapid City, becomes the first female South Dakota from the U.S. Army’s Drill Sergeant Academy. She talks about what it takes to accomplish goals and not adhering to general roles: