First all-Black, all-female group chosen to lead graduation at JBSA-Lackland

Military training instructors say visibility crucial to set standard for others

SAN ANTONIO – For the first time, an all-female, all-Black Commander of the Airmen Team at JBSA-Lackland was selected based on their qualifications and experience to lead a graduation ceremony.

“Being a Black woman in the military — or a woman of color at all — in a position where we are leading and we are taking charge is super important,” said TSgt. Jennyeka Stringfield, a military training instructor for the U.S. Air Force originally from Kensington, Maryland.

The three women selected to lead the first graduation ceremony of the month is something Stringfield says she hasn’t seen before.

“I think it’s super powerful. I’ve never seen it, I’ve been here about a year and a half, and I haven’t seen a COA (Commander of the Airmen) Team that was even all females,” Stringfield said.

All three commanders selected say representation truly matters but, more importantly, being seen.

“Some of the families made comments as we marched by that they were proud to see us, and they were excited,” said Stringfield.

Sgt. Sabrina Martin, a military training instructor for the U.S. Air Force from Houston, said, “Sometimes our hard work goes unnoticed, so it’s good to walk through that bomb run, just to stretch yourself, let them know, ‘I am here, and we are amazing.’”

Martin said it’s important to work hard and assume leadership roles to set the standard for others.

“I would say we’re taking over, all the African American women, I feel like we’re getting into those positions that make a difference as well as being that role model for those that are upcoming,” Martin said.

Sgt. Latosha Ross, a Phoenix native, said she understands the role she plays in shaping the Air Force’s future. She said if your dreams don’t scare you, you aren’t dreaming big enough.

“I go into situations, and I’m just like, ‘Hey, I’m here, and I’m going to be in the room.’ That’s how my parents taught me from when I was young,” Ross said.

She said Thursday’s presence at the graduation was seen, heard and felt, adding that she was beyond proud to belong to an organization that celebrates diversity.

“Everybody is just very excited about it, regardless of their skin color. That shows diversity to me. That shows that it’s reaching other people, and they see it, and they acknowledge it, and they support it,” Ross said.

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About the Authors:

Jonathan Cotto is a reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He’s a bilingual award-winning news reporter and he joined KSAT in 2021. Before coming to San Antonio, Cotto was reporting along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas. He’s a veteran of the United States Navy.