Meet The First Black Female Major General Brigadier in Marine Corps History

Maj. Gen. Lorna Mahlock is officially the highest-ranking Black female officer in Marine Corps history.

After gaining President Joe Biden‘s nomination earlier this month, the Jamaican-born commander was confirmed for promotion by the Senate on December 15, Marine Corps Times reported. Matlock’s current appointment is located at Fort Meades’s National Security Agency, where she serves as deputy director of cybersecurity for combat support.

Mahlock is the first Black woman to serve as a two-star general, per the news outlet.

A trailblazer at heart, the Marquette University alumna has made history more than once. In 2018, she became the first Black woman in the Corps to achieve the one-star rank of brigadier general, BLACK ENTERPRISE previously reported, and she was the first Black woman to serve as the Marine Corps’ chief information officer.

Though the Corps has amplified its efforts to diversify its ranks, the military organization still maintains the lowest percentage of women among its troops at 9%, per Marine Corps Times. For Mahlock, significant changes have been made since since the ban on women in combat was lifted in 2015.

“I’ve seen that barrier lifted in my career,” Mahlock said, according to a story published by Marquette. “We’ve got women flying strike aircraft, women in the infantry and artillery and tanks…Regardless of where you’re from or your color, gender or ethnicity, we’re just trying to figure out how to build the best fighting force.”

Matlock’s rise up the military ranks is a testament to her journey before and after immigrating to Brooklyn, NY, from Jamaica at the age of 17. She enlisted in the Marine Corps just three months later and became an air traffic controller. In her decades-long military career, Mahlock has served in various leadership roles.

Mahlock obtained her commission through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program in December 1991 after graduating from Marquette with a broadcast journalism degree. She also earned a graduate degree in adult and higher education from the University of Oklahoma as well as a master’s degree in military strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College in 2010, BLACK ENTERPRISE reported.

“I went to an all-girls Catholic school in the Caribbean, and then coming to the Jesuit construct was very helpful to me,” Mahlock said. “The professors at the NROTC unit at Marquette really embraced the idea that in order to make folks better, you had to know their story, meet them where they were and help them on the journey.”