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ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The U.S. Naval Academy announced the selection of the first Black female brigade commander in the institution’s 175-year history.

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Midshipman 1st Class Sydney Barber, of Lake Forest, Illinois, will assume the leadership position for the 2021 spring semester, the academy stated in a news release on Monday. She was chosen Friday. the academy announced.

Barber’s appointment was announced by Commandant Capt. Thomas Buchanan on Friday, the Capital Gazette reported. The semester-long position is currently held by 1st Class Midshipman Ryan Chapman. Barber currently serves as the 1st regiment executive officer, the newspaper reported.

Brigade commander is the highest leadership position in the student body, the Navy said. The position is selected through an application and interview process by senior leadership and the commandant’s staff.

Barber, a graduate of Lake Forest High School, is a member of the academy’s track team and holds a record for the outdoor 4×400 meter relay. According to the school’s release, she also serves as co-president of the Navy Fellowship of Christian Athletes Club and is secretary of the National Society of Black Engineers. Barber belongs to the gospel choir and the Midshipman Black Studies Club.

“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 the release. “I am humbled to play a small role in this momentous season of American history.”

Barber is studying mechanical engineering at the Naval Academy. She will be the 16th woman to serve as brigade commander in the 44 years that women have been allowed to attend the Naval Academy, according to the school’s statement.