by Danyel Jones
(NNPA)—For the first time in the United States Coast Guard Academy’s 133-year history, an African-American woman is leading the cadets.
Jacqueline Fitch, 22, of Catonsville, Md. made her debut as regimental commander, the academy’s highest-ranking cadet, Sept. 26 when she led the Corps of Cadets in a parade on the academy’s Washington Parade Field.
CADET JACQUELINE FITCH
The regimental commander acts as a liaison between the commandant of cadets and the cadet corps. Fitch will be responsible for maintaining good order and discipline, overseeing welfare of the student body and ensuring cadets comply to the regulations and policies established by the superintendent and commandant of cadets.
“This feels great, it’s probably my greatest accomplishment so far,” Fitch said. “It makes me feel happy because it’s something that I did for my people and those who come into the academy after me.”
Fitch said she did not initially realize her appointment made history.
“I didn’t know I was the first,” she said. “I applied and I knew we previously had an African-American male but after people started asking me if I was the first, it made me wonder. Then I found out and it just feels great to be like a trailblazer.”
Fitch has held leadership roles since she attended high school at Western School of Technology and Environmental Sciences in Baltimore. She said she has enjoyed her family’s support from the beginning.
“In high school she was a class representative, so she had leadership skills she carried into the academy from school,” Fitch’s mother, Judy, said. “When I first heard the news I was so happy for her. She called me and said, ‘Mom, they chose me for the position!’ and I am just proud of her.”
(Danyel Jones is a staff writer for the Afro American.)