If you were to receive an email from Terace Garnier, you will notice a famous quote from Hariet Tubman at the bottom of her signature.
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
While Garnier wasn’t around during the time that Tubman said that, she certainly has lived up to every single word of that sentence. Originally from Bluefield, WV, she moved out of the Mountain State when she was five years old. Garnier described herself as artistic as a child, and she said that she would commit to every goal she set for herself.
“I was driven, very driven.”
One of her goals was to become an actress or be featured on television. Like many kids, she saw herself doing other things as well. The difference was that Garnier never settled for the word “or.” Even with many aspirations on her mind, she felt she do those “and” more.
“I could do it all in my mind, so why not?” she asked. Those dreams also could have served her as a temporary escape from the more challenging parts of her childhood. Her father was a retired Marine, but young Terace was moving back and forth between her father, her mother, and grandparents. While she was with her mother for around two years, she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend, and she was subject to childhood domestic violence. Eventually, she would be removed from that situation, but the trauma from that situation never left her. While that could’ve affected her in many negative ways, Garnier managed to turn the negatives into positives.
“I literally wouldn’t have done the things I’ve done if not for what happened to me as a kid,” she explained. “I believe that was why I was so driven in school because school was my escape. I was always the teacher’s pet, and that was my safe space.”
Garnier also focused on art, and she would enter art competitions. By the time she was in high school, her talent helped her earn a full ride scholarship to a college in Tennessee. She also wanted to express support for others that may have been in situations like hers, which is why she was active with churches by doing Bible study classes and making baskets for others.
“I wanted to help those that didn’t have the resources to help others.”
Eventually, she found herself following in her father’s footsteps and joined the military. Instead of the Marines, Garnier joined the United States Air Force. She relocated to Japan and would work in photography and videography, followed by a stint in radio. Following on that childhood passion to be on television, she became an intern for a local TV station.
She recalled the feelings of being in that station and said, “I fell in love with it. I felt like I had found my calling.” Instead of acting, that internship would evolve into a role as a reporter and broadcast journalist for a military station, telling the stories of victims and survivors as well as using her voice in a positive
way. She developed a significant following along the way thanks to her multitude of roles in media. Not only was she achieving her childhood dreams, but she was also making a difference, serving her country, and setting herself up to get her degree in college.
“It was a win, win, win.”
When she wasn’t working, she was working out. Fitness and training were something that she enjoyed; so much so that her superiors had to find different ways to discipline her besides exercise while she was in basic training.
“They couldn’t punish me by working out because I loved it too much,” she said with a laugh. Even with an injured leg, she passed an entire physical test, which included a run. She was admired for her ability to stay in shape.
“I had the second highest score among men and women. Fitness was one of the things that helped me survive a lot of the craziness I went through.”
Fitness would have to serve her in that way again during her time in service. While she was in Japan, things were going incredibly well for her until tragedy struck again. She was assaulted by another servicemember. An investigation followed, but in the meantime, Garnier channeled her trauma and emotions into a new physical challenge, snowboarding.
“I was going snowboarding every weekend,” she shared. “I had never snowboarded before in my life (before). I fell in love with it, and it was a good way to stay physically fit and I could enjoy nature and meditate. It saved my life in that sense.”
Because of her notoriety and for her protection, Garnier eventually had to relocate to another base to continue her service while the investigation into the offender continued. Having a previous blueprint of turning negatives into positives, she reached out to the Pentagon offering her help to increase awareness of sexual assault in the military. She filmed public service announcements explaining how victims can get help and find support. They also had her travel to speak to others about her story. Ultimately, she inspired and educated many people through her experience.
“I’ve been able to take everything that’s happened to me and use it to help other people. That’s the hope, anyways.”
Garnier also found other ways to be involved with the media thanks to working with Newsy as the first Pentagon Correspondent as well as Fox News in Washington, D.C. Her time in the Air Force would end due to a back injury, but she found cycling to be both a way to move forward and continue staying in shape. She found it helped her in more ways than one.
“I found my saving grace in the form of cycling! It was the only exercise that didn’t make my back go haywire. And let me tell you, once I started pedaling, I got totally hooked. It wasn’t just about getting fit; it was about how it made me feel alive!”
Besides cycling, the veteran, media personality, artist, and Ms. International US winner is continuing to share her entire story with the world. Her latest venture is her upcoming book, “No Longer Silent,” and it chronicles her ups, downs, and everything in between, all with hopes of showing others what they’re capable of. It’s set to be released on November 11th, the 10-year anniversary of her assault.
Follow Terace on Instagram @miss_t_garnier.