Smithfield-Selma student to become one of first women in Army position
Posted February 25
Updated February 29
Smithfield, N.C. — For the first time in history, the U.S. Army has opened up 20,000 combat positions to women.
In the Army, a combat engineer is responsible for the movement of friendly and enemy forces, which means they're involved the detonation of explosives and destruction of obstacles. Prior to last November, the role was closed to women.
"It was pretty exciting knowing that I made it," said Josselyn Castaneda Trejo, a senior JROTC student at Smithfield-Selma High School. She's used to hitting the books, but soon she'll be hitting the ground running with the U.S. Army Reserves.
"I was already interested in the military since I was younger," Castaneda Trejo said. "So, this opportunity came up and I took it."
The opportunity—her dream job as a combat engineer—only became available to women days before she walked in to the Army recruiting office.
The U.S. Army opened up the position because of an ongoing campaign to dismantle, in phases, policies that have barred women from serving in combat units below the brigade level.
"The army is focused on putting the right people in the right places at the right times, regardless of gender," said Charles Thomson, commander of Army recruiting.
The U.S. Army offers more than 150 different jobs, but Castaneda Trejo's recruiter said he made a point to not tell her that she could be one of the first women in the position until he knew what she really wanted.
"I didn’t want her to choose the job for that reason,” said Austin Berrian, Castaneda Trejo's recruiter. “The best people in the best positions. That’s all that matters.”
Since then, there have only been a handful of women recruited across the state.
Castaneda Trejo graduates from high school in May and will ship off to basic training in the summer. She hopes her story helps motivate other people to do more.