ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- The U.S. Naval Academy held a luncheon celebrating African American/Black History Month with special guest, Janie Mines, Feb. 2, in King Hall.
Mines was the first black female to graduate from the Naval Academy.
"It was challenging and lonely at times," said Mines. "I had to deal with difficult situations. It made me a better person, and I am hoping I helped make the Naval Academy a better place."
Mines, a 1980 graduate, was also part of the class that had the first female graduates.
"Once I graduated from here I felt prepared to deal with almost any challenge that may come my way," said Mines. "I have done a lot of different things in my life, and I have never had anything as challenging as this was. I am glad I did it and happy to be a part of the Naval Academy family."
Mines was appointed by South Carolina Congressman, Butler Derrick, to be part of the first class of women to attend the Naval Academy in 1976. On a visit back to the academy in 2000, she recalled seeing how much had changed from when she was a midshipman.
"It actually brought tears to my eyes just to see all those girls; to see so many women," said Mines. "There were just a few women here when I went to school at the academy. To see so many females here and thriving is very emotional for me."
Mines continues to provide the next generation of the Navy's leaders with encouragement and mentorship.
"I met Miss Mines last year when I became the president of the Black Studies Club," said Midshipmen 2nd Class Andre Evans. "Miss. Mines has been a mentor to me, helping me out when I need it and motiving me to stay strong. She is like a second mother to me, and to other black midshipmen."
This year the Naval Academy's Black History Month celebration kicked off with a gospel choir concert Sunday and a luncheon in King Hall Monday. Later this month The Black Studies Club will hold a number of events like: a leadership diversity panel, "Life in the Military as a Minority", where they have invited O-6 officers from the Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force to come and talk about being a minority in the military in Rickover Hall; In the Shoes of Montford Point Marines in Rickover Hall, the Black History Month Banquet at Alumni Hall and a Poetry Luncheon in the Chesapeake Room in Bancroft Hall.
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