American author Leo Buscaglia said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Sgt Goncalez does not underestimate the power of those small gestures. She is hard-wired to care about others and it shows from her career choices to her day-to-day activities.
Sgt Goncalez began working in the nursing field as LPN and RN in 2003 at the major public hospital on her hometown of Porto Velho. She performed duties in the emergency room, orthopedics infirmary and surgery center. She later joined the Brazilian Army Nurse Corps Reserves and stayed on active duty from 2006 to 2011, working at the Brazilian Army Academy Hospital and at the Academy Support Battalion Medical Post.
Sgt Milena and her husband, Col Marcelo Goncalez moved from Brazil to the United States in November of 2011. Upon her arrival on U.S., Sgt. Goncalez started working very hard to improve her level of communication in English, attending the ESL classes at Lord Fairfax Community College for four years and an additional year at James Madison University.
Even the language barrier, however, couldn’t keep her from extending a caring hand to others. For a while, she volunteered in one of the senior homes located in Woodstock, VA and also worked as a TAC (Training, Advising, and Counseling) Officer and Senior TAC Officer in the female dormitory at Massanutten Military Academy.
In November of 2017, Sgt Goncalez and her husband joined the R-MA Cadet Life Supervisor Team. She worked in both the Middle and Upper School dorms as a part-time dorm counselor. In the fall of 2018, she was assigned as a Cadet Life Supervisor to one of the girls’ dorm hallways in Turner Hall.
“I love to be with the girls,” she said. “This is my family; these are my children. I enjoy spending time with them, helping them work through problems, listening to them talk about their day, and teaching them how to do things like take care of their uniforms and clean their rooms. And I think they like to help me with my English!”
Sgt Goncalez is also passionate about fitness; she goes to the gym every day and has different levels of certification as a Zumba Instructor. (In fact, she hopes to give Zumba classes at R-MA!) She also loves to watch movies with her husband on the weekends and, to take their dogs, Henry (the Pug) and Oliver (the Yorkie) for long walks around R-MA campus.
“My husband and I are very happy and grateful to be part of the ‘R-MA family!’” she said. “We feel we have found a home here.
- B.S. Nursing – Barra Mansa University - Brazil
- Licensed Practical Nurse – “Vale do Mamore” Technical College - Brazil