Shaina Coss grew up in an Army family with her older sister and younger brother. From a young age, her OCS-commissioned father encouraged Shaina to attend West Point. When she reported to West Point on R-Day, she remembers her mother crying as she began her adventure in Ike Hall, but Shaina was excited. Throughout Beast, she discovered moments where she realized she possessed the mental and physical toughness to push through challenging situations. She chose to major in kinesiology, finding important mentors in the Department of Physical Education. She realized that her personality could possibly be seen as abrasive and aggressive, leading others to believe that she lacked respect, and she worked to improve how she presented herself. During her time at the Academy, she faced two alcohol boards for underage drinking. The first was when she was a yearling, and the second was when she was a firstie at Airborne School. She walked 100 hours for her first board, and was assigned to the Army Mentorship Program following her second board. She picked LTC(R) Dave Jones as a mentor, and he encouraged her take responsibility for her actions. Once she was finally assigned an MOS (that process took much longer than it should have), she reported for training as an MP (Military Police) and was assigned to Ft. Hood, Texas. After completing the Army Mentorship Program, she returned to West Point, helped open the Powerlifting Team to women, and branched Aviation (she had previously branched Aviation before she was separated for the Army Mentorship Program). Fate intervened when she was deemed ineligible for Aviation, and with 10 days remaining before graduation, she was forced to pick another branch. She selected Infantry, which had just recently opened up to women. She completed Ranger School before assignment to the 82nd Airborne Division as a Rifle Platoon Leader, and then was selected as the first female Infantry Officer to serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment. Currently, she is commanding C Company, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry in the 10th Mountain Division.
In this interview, she talks about her childhood, her West Point experiences, her time in the Army Mentorship Program, branching Infantry, and serving as an Army Ranger. She reflects on the unique path her career has taken, and the opportunities she has seized. She owns her mistakes and describes how they have helped her grow as a person. Finally, she reflects on her service and on West Point.