WTOP is featuring women who make a difference in the community during Women’s History Month.
June Copeland joined the military at the suggestion of her twin brother, Jerry, who was about to enlist in the Army. June and Jerry Copeland had never been separated before, and he wasn’t ready to be without her.
Jerry served his commitment to the military, then went off to pursue other goals as a civilian after he met and married the love of his life.
But June not only remained in the military, and was accepted to the U.S. Military Academy after three years in the Army. After graduating from West Point, she became an adjutant general currently stationed at the Pentagon.
Copeland has had many successes during her military career, but she says her greatest accomplishment has been her three daughters, June Alyxandra, and twins, Jasmyn and Jeilyn.
Army 2nd Lt. June Alyxandra Copeland is a recent West Point graduate. She is part of the largest group of African American female cadets to ever graduate from West Point. Jasmyn and Jeilyn are currently in their third year at the Military Academy.
“The thing I’m impressed with most about my daughters is that they’re good people, good moral-centric people with good hearts,” Copeland said.
She said she believes children learn through seeing rather than being lectured to. June took her daughters to a movie theater one day when they were young.
After the movie, when the theater emptied out and the lights were turned on, she took her daughters to the front of the theater and told them to look at the empty seats.
“By the time you reach high school, every one of these seats represents an opportunity for you,” she told them. “What you need to do is make sure your academics are good so you can take advantage of those opportunities.”
“If your GPA isn’t good,” she told them, lifting up the bottom of one of the folding seats, “if you haven’t done community service,” she said, lifting yet another seat — “You will close every opportunity.”
All three girls took advantage of the opportunities afforded to them. June Alyxandra, now 23, always wanted to go to the University of Miami until she started weighing her options in high school. Copeland was pleasantly surprised when June Alyxandra chose to follow in her footsteps. Jasmyn, now 20, had wanted to go to West Point since she was four-years-old.
“I would see her on the weekends studying just to make sure her grades didn’t fall below a 4.0,” Copeland said.
Jeilyn wanted no part of West Point, but during high school it became a competition between the girls to see who could get in. And, when she did, she said she was going for herself and to make her mother proud.
Copeland said the key to being a successful officer is “competency, professionalism and empathy, caring about my soldiers … making sure that I take care of them.”
Not only has she taken care of her soldiers, but she has also taken care of her daughters and created a legacy of service and success.