The First African American Female Brigade Commander at the U.S. Naval Academy

The Commandant of Midshipmen recently announced the spring semester midshipman leadership positions. The selection included tye appointment of the Naval Academy’s first African American female brigade commander, Midshipman 1st Class Sydney Barber, of Lake Forest, Illinois.

The brigade commander is the highest leadership position within the brigade. The brigade commander is selected through an application and interview process by senior leadership from the Commandant’s staff.

“Earning the title of brigade commander speaks volumes, but the title itself is not nearly as significant as the opportunity it brings to lead a team in doing something I believe will be truly special,” said Barber. “I am humbled to play a small role in this momentous season of American history.”

The first female brigade commander was then Midshipman 1st Class Juliane Gallina from the class of 1992, who served in the position during the fall of 1991. Barber will be the sixteenth woman selected for brigade commander in the 44 years women have been attending the  Naval Academy.

Barber, a graduate of Lake Forest High School in Illinois, is a mechanical engineering major and aspires to a commission as a Marine Corps ground officer. As a walk-on sprinter and hurdler of the Navy Women’s Varsity Track and Field team, she has lettered all three years of competing and is a USNA record holder for the outdoor 4×400 meter relay.

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