Sydney Barber Selected as 1st Black Woman to Serve as US Naval Academy Brigade Commander

The U.S. Naval Academy has announced the first Black woman, Sydney Barber, to lead a brigade of midshipmen Monday.
The U.S. Naval Academy has announced the first Black woman to lead a brigade of midshipmen Monday. U.S. Navy

The U.S. Naval Academy has announced the first Black woman to lead a brigade of midshipmen Monday. Midshipman 1st Class Sydney Barber will be the commander for the spring semester, they announced.

Brigade commander is the highest position within the student body. Barber, who hails from Illinois, is a mechanical engineering major and aspires to commission as a Marine Corps ground officer.

"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," Barber said in a statement. "I am humbled to play a small role in this momentous season of American history."

Barber went through a series of interviews with senior leadership and the commandant's staff after applying for the position.

“Sydney stands out amongst her peers, for not only her exemplary record, but for her clear vision of how she intends to make the world a better place and her accompanying bias for action. We were incredibly proud to have Sydney represent the Naval Academy in her Truman Scholarship interview this year,” said Lt. Cmdr. Darby Yeager, a member of the U.S. Naval Academy’s Truman Scholarship selection committee, said in a press release.

Barber is the 16th woman selected for brigade commander in the 44 years women have been attending the academy. The first female brigade commander was then-Midshipman Juliane Gallina, who served in the position in 1991.

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