SACRAMENTO -- Col. Sylvia Rubalcaba-Crockett can give you a handful of reasons why she loves the California National Guard.
"It is an extremely prestigious organization and it does everything from supporting local events in the community to helping people when natural disasters occur and we deploy the largest number of people to defend our nation in times of war than in any other branch of military and we embrace diversity above everything else," said Crockett, 53.
It is guard's approach to diversity that gave Crockett the opportunity to make history. Two weeks ago, California National Guard Major David Baldwin promoted Crockett to brigadier general at a special ceremony at the state Capitol.
She is the first Latina -- and woman -- to obtain this rank.
"I feel extremely fortunate. It's a historical moment, yes, but I don't think my being a woman or a Latina makes a difference. The guard chooses people based on their merits and achievements and their ability to contribute at the next level and I think I have the qualifications, skill level and experience to fulfill this new job," said Crockett, who was born and raised in Sacramento.
Crockett, a Mexican-American woman grew up with a single mother and is the youngest in a family of six brothers and sisters. When she was 3, her parents divorced and she was raised in a "rough and poor neighborhood."
She attended Grant Union High School not knowing what she wanted to do after graduation. "I ended up getting a job with the Department of Motor Vehicles and I was taking college courses in the evenings. One day, I decided to join the California National Guard when I learned about the organization from friends. Somehow, the work really sparked my interest because it offered so many opportunities," said Crockett.
She joined the guard in 1982 as a secretary at age 24. She later took on roles as a supply technician and deputy director of the guard's youth programs. Crockett worked under the supervision of two colonels who encouraged her to continue her education if she wanted to move up the ladder.
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