ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Commandant of Midshipmen announced the spring semester midshipman leadership positions, Friday, Nov. 6, which includes the selection of the Naval Academy’s first African American female brigade commander, Midshipman 1st Class Sydney Barber, of Lake Forest, Ill.
The brigade commander is the highest leadership position within the brigade, and is the only “six striper”– a reference to the collar insignia worn on the midshipman uniform, the rank of midshipman captain. The semester-long position is currently held by Midshipman 1st Class Ryan Chapman and is selected through an application and interview process by senior leadership from the Commandant’s staff.
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 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 4x400m relay. She is the co-president of the Navy Fellowship of Christian Athletes Club, secretary for the National Society of Black Engineers, and a member of the USNA Gospel Choir and Midshipman Black Studies Club. Barber served as the 13th company’s executive officer this past Plebe Summer and currently serves as the brigade’s 1st regiment executive 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,” said Barber. “I am humbled to play a small role in this momentous season of American history.”
The brigade striper selection board receives records of the top ranked first class (senior) midshipmen across the brigade for consideration for the most senior midshipman leadership positions each semester. The board’s composition is made up of the deputy commandant of midshipmen, the six battalion officers, the brigade master chief and the current brigade commander.
Records are reviewed in detail and 30 midshipmen are selected for board interviews. Each member of the board utilizes an objective assessment tool to assess each midshipman and then rank them in order. Individual board member scores are combined and a resultant consolidated ranking is generated; Barber was the top-ranked midshipman out of this semester’s board process.
“She is a catalyst for action, a visionary, a listener, a doer, and a person driven by compassion, by faith, by a fierce sense of passion and heart full of love,” said Chapman. “Sydney is the perfect person to lead the brigade.”
Barber completed a 7-week internship with the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory two summers ago, where she was instrumental in doing breakthrough research on bio-electrochemical uses for carbon nanotubes. Her research in developing legislative strategies to address education disparities in minority communities earned her selection as a 2020 Truman Scholar national finalist.
“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.
Barber also initiated a STEM outreach program that leverages mentoring, literature, and service lessons to serve middle school-aged girls of color, and led a team to organize the inaugural USNA Black Female Network Breakfast to bridge the generational gap between current black midshipmen and alumni. She most recently mobilized a team of more than 180 midshipmen, faculty, and alumni to develop the Midshipman Diversity Team to promote greater diversity, inclusivity, and equity within the Brigade.
She was recently invited to speak at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Visitors, the academy’s congressional oversight committee. Barber discussed how she has negotiated her time as a midshipman in the COVID-19 environment, her activities as a midshipmen striper, leadership in Bancroft Hall, balancing activities over the summer and her experience at Leatherneck, the Marine Corps’ summer training in Quantico, Va.
Barber was also featured in a Naval Academy Founder’s Day video recently produced by the Naval Academy Alumni Association and Foundation, and discussed how the legacy of midshipmen who came before her is one of her motivations. [Barber can be found in video at minute marks 2:50-3:24 and 4:39-4:56.]
The announcement of next semester’s leadership team was made to the Brigade of Midshipmen during the noon meal “anchor announcement,” which is currently being held virtually due to the COVD-19 environment. Other brigade-level striper position billets announced Friday include Midshipman 1st Class Ashley Boddiford, of Oviedo, Florida., as the brigade executive officer; Midshipman 1st Class Tristan Anderson, of Ventura, California, as the brigade operations officer; Midshipman 1st Class Evelyn Berecz, of Downingtown, Pennsylvania., as the brigade training officer; Midshipman 2nd Class Taylor Forrester, of York, Pennsylvania., as the brigade sergeant major; and Midshipman 2nd Class Quin Ramos, of Lafayette, Colorado, as the brigade training sergeant.
“We are the architects of our future, and every day we earn the right to carry the torch that was once lit by the heroes, pioneers, and giants who came before us,” said Barber. “I owe everything to every person who paved the way for me, so I now pour my heart and soul into blazing the trail for the generations to come.”
Word of Friday’s announcement spread quickly this past weekend after a social media post by the first Black female to graduate from USNA, Janie Mines. Mines shared a photo of Barber and commented, “This brought me to tears. This young woman, Midshipman Sydney Barber, will be the first Black Female Brigade Commander at the U.S. Naval Academy. 40 years later. Thank you, Sydney! Love you!” Mines graduated from the academy in 1980 with the first class of women, who were inducted in 1976.
For more information about the Naval Academy, please visit: www.usna.edu or our Facebook page.
NAACP Legal Defense Fund Fight Voting Barriers in Texas
A group of organizations of color recently came together on Sept. 11 in San Antonio to represent a lawsuit they filed arguing Senate Bill 1 violates the First, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by intentionally targeting and burdening methods and means of voting used by voters of color.
Representatives gathered at the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas (in San Antonio) to represent their case. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), Reed Smith LLP, and The Arc filed the lawsuit for the Houston Area Urban League, Houston Justice, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and The Arc of Texas.
The defendants in the case are Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Deputy Secretary of State of Texas Jose Esparza, Attorney General of Texas Ken Paxton, Elections Administrator of Bexar County Jacque Callanen, and Elections Administrator of Harris County Isabel Longoria.
S.B. 1 includes a series of suppressive voting-related provisions that will make it much harder for Texas residents to vote and disenfranchise some altogether, particularly Black and Latino voters and voters with disabilities.
The plaintiffs claim the law violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act by imposing barriers against voters with disabilities and denying people with disabilities equal opportunities to participate in the state’s voting programs.
The lawsuit challenges multiple provisions in SB 1, including:
- Limitations on early voting hours and constraints on the distribution of mail-in ballot applications.
- The elimination of drive-thru voting centers and the prohibition of mail-in ballot drop-boxes.
“Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. has been fighting for the rights of all U.S. citizens to vote for 108 years,” said Delta Sigma Theta President and CEO Beverly E. Smith. “S.B. 1 directly threatens the right to vote of over 20,000 members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and their family and friends in Texas, and we are committed to fight against S.B. 1 on their behalf.”
Texas is among more than 40 other states that have enacted legislative efforts to substantially restrict voting access. LDF and The Arc are also involved in litigation challenging Georgia’s restrictive voting laws.
Travel, Sports, and Growth with Council Person Jalen Mckee
As the Spurs secure their #1 pick and the IPW Travel Conference puts a spotlight on our city, District 2 stands at the precipice of a booming billion-dollar tourism industry. This convergence of sports and tourism forms the backdrop of our exclusive live podcast event brought to you by East-Side-based Culture Travels magazine.
Join us as we delve into the intertwined worlds of travel and sports tourism with our distinguished guests: Jalen Mckee Rodriguez, Council Person of District 2, Deborah Omowale Jarmon, CEO/Director of the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum, Dr. Kara Allen, Chief Impact Officer for the San Antonio Spurs, and Jenny Carnes, CEO of San Antonio Sports.
Jalen, known for his engaging persona and passion for community growth, will take us on a journey through his personal travels, providing insight on how exploring new places, cultures, and experiences has fueled their tireless advocacy for the development of District 2.
Additionally, In the wake of the Spurs’ key draft pick and the potential surge of tourism following the IPW conference, Jalen offers his perspective on how these two factors intertwine with the economic prosperity of District 2. In an era where sports, culture, and economics are more interlinked than ever, understanding the potential impact on District 2’s economy becomes both enlightening and imperative.
We also welcome three extraordinary special guests: Deborah Omowale Jarmon, CEO/Director of the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum, Jenny Carnes, CEO of San Antonio Sports, and Dr. Kara Allen, Chief Impact Officer for the San Antonio Spurs. Their expertise and insights will further illuminate the intersection of sports, tourism, and economic growth in our city.
This live podcast event is perfect for those passionate about travel and tourism, who want to understand the economic relationship between the San Antonio Spurs and District 2’s economy or are eager to gain insights into the potential of district-focused development. Join us for a thought-provoking discussion, diverse perspectives, and a deeper understanding of the dynamics of travel and sports tourism.
Limited seats! Register today! We look forward to seeing you there!
Places to Stay Cool
When temperatures rise to potentially dangerous levels, it is important to stay inside an air-conditioned space whenever possible. There are currently over 30 San Antonio locations for the public to use to stay cool. These include:
- City Libraries
- Senior Centers
- Community Centers
NOTE: Via’s Personal Trip Planner can help you find a bus route to a location near you.
ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES TO STAY COOL
Additional opportunities to stay cool include the City’s following free facilities:
- Splash Pads
- Swimming Pools
For locations, visitor information, and hours of operation, please visit the Parks & Recreation Department.
HEAT SAFETY TIPS
Adults over 65, children under 4, and people with existing medical conditions such as heart disease and those without access to air conditioning are at highest risk on days with high temperatures.
Drinking plenty of water and protecting oneself from the sun are critical precautions. Additionally, people should call and check on their neighbors who may be at high risk and ensure access to heat relief and hydration.
Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are possible health effects. Warning signs of heat stroke include: red, hot, and moist or dry skin, no sweating, a strong rapid pulse or a slow weak pulse, nausea, confusion or acting strangely. If a child exhibits any of these signs, cool the child rapidly with cool water (not an ice bath) and call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
Never leave children or pets alone in vehicles. If you see a child or pet locked in a hot car or in the back of a truck, take action immediately. Jot down the car’s description (including a license plate number). Call the Police Department immediately. If regarding a pet, call Animal Care Services at 311. Per city ordinance, both Police and Animal Care Officers have the right to break a car’s window if a child or animal is endangered inside a vehicle.
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