Black Hills Family and Rapid Chevrolet Cadillac recognize these four inspiring women, not only for their service, but for their personal achievements. Nominated by their friends and family, we thank each of them, their spouses, and the thousands of other military families in our area for their service to our country.
It was May 31, 2000 when Ellen graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and entered active duty as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force. Just a few weeks later in June of that year, she married Andrew Kowalchuk–an Air Force Officer–and during her four-year active-duty career as a Communications Officer, they had their first child. Ellen was officially a Military Mom.
When she was transferred to the Reserves, she continued to successfully juggle parenthood and another seven years of devoted service to her country even as her husband completed the Pilot Training program and their family continued to grow. In 2010, Andrew was deployed to Germany and Ellen moved the Kowalchuk home and their three children to Heidelberg while she was eight months pregnant.
Within a month of their arrival, Ellen had given birth in a German hospital and before the baby was six months old, Andrew was again deployed–this time to Afghanistan–leaving her alone with four children. She seized the opportunity and threw herself into service of another kind—volunteering to coordinate a large Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group at the German Army Post. Her commitment to her country did not wane, and neither did her devotion to her family, even as it grew to include five children. Even now, Ellen home-schools her own children and teaches Classical Conversation classes to several others, serves as a vocalist on her church’s worship team, is active in the Military Spouses group for Andrew’s unit, and was just awarded her Masters degree in Education.
As Andrew says, “Ellen has experienced life as an active duty officer, a reserve corps officer, and now a supportive spouse. She embodies the spirit, and perseverance of the military mom. She has had a tremendous impact on her family, this city, our country, and the world! Her selfless love and dedication in all that she does should be an example to us all.” Ellen’s devotion to her husband, children, country, and community is nothing short of inspirational.
Priscilla Borrego is a 27-year-old Military Mom who has remained utterly devoted to her two children and her husband even while she pursued a career in broadcasting. After marrying into the military, she continued her education in Journalism and is now a reporter for ABC News on KOTA here in the Black Hills. “All the time, remaining a very good wife—and now mother,” her grandmother tells us. Despite the demands of a career in broadcasting, Priscilla not only maintains a busy family at home, she volunteers for military spouse functions and makes a point of finding time to “simply love on her kids,” writes her sister-in-law. “She is one of the most confident, loyal, inspiring, and energetic moms I have ever seen. [Priscilla] is a wonderful example of what a great mom looks like
as she juggles all the duties of life, work, and family.”
For the 18 years since Mindy got married, she has stood at her husband’s side, proudly supporting him in his 22-year career of service to his country. In that time, Mindy has raised three handsome boys through six deployments and several Temporary Duty assignments. “Mindy is an incredible mother, wife, and friend,” her friend Stefanie writes. Her commitment and participation in her community is no less inspiring. “She volunteers for all groups that need her help,” her friend says. Mindy runs several programs on base, Vacation Bible School, Awana Sunday School, and others in addition to handling the role of treasurer for the Enlisted Spouses Club. “She is a role model to many women,” Stefanie asserts. “I know that she deserves this [recognition] because she truly does inspire me and others.”
Life as a mother of two boys is plenty challenging, as Christina Schmit can attest. It’s a lot more challenging when you’re pregnant with the third. And when you’re a military wife and your husband is often deployed, it gets more challenging still. According to Chris’s friends, though, “she has a passion for being a military wife who works hard to support her army husband while raising their boys together.” For this stay at home mom, family is the greatest priority and even through the stresses that come with repeated deployments, Christina stays strong, strength–her friends say–that could only come from God. “Her passion and devotion for her sons and husband shines through in everything she does,” says her friend Emilie. “When her husband returns, she goes all out for him,” says another friend, Cyndie. In addition to nurturing her growing family, Chris makes it a point to involve herself with her community. She leads a family support group with the National Guard and created a weekly pre-school science class for young kids. “She takes time to love on and support any military member or loved one that she comes in contact with,” Emilie says. “I have been inspired and encouraged by Chris on numerous occasions.” Cyndie agrees and adds, “she is a young woman, wife, and mom I am blessed to know.”