U.S. Naval AcademyBy LESLEY HAULER, ABC News (NEW YORK) — More than 44 years after women were first allowed to join the U.S. Naval Academy, the prestigious military institution has announced its first Black female brigade commander.Midshipman 1st Class Sydney Barber will assume the role next semester, according to a press release from the Naval Academy.As a brigade commander, Barber will have the highest leadership position within her brigade.The Naval Academy made the announcement about Barber’s new role in a Nov. 6 press release about spring semester midshipman leadership positions.“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 press release.She will be the 16th female brigade commander since women were granted admission into the U.S. Naval Academy in 1976.“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,” she said.Barber has already built herself an impressive resume.The Lake Forest, Illinois, native is majoring in mechanical engineering at the Naval Academy and was a member of the track and field team. She launched a STEM outreach program to help young girls of color and completed an internship at the Department of Energy. Most recently, Barber worked with alumni, current midshipmen and faculty to develop a new diversity team within the brigade.News of Barber’s historic appointment has been met with applause on social media, especially from Janie Mines, the first Black woman to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy, who said the announcement “brought me to tears.”“40 years later, Sydney, you did it. You are my wildest dream,” Mines wrote on LinkedIn. Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.