General Nadja West is not your ordinary woman. She is a self-made confident woman who serves in the American Army as a Surgeon and General. Nadja has managed to achieve three stars adorned on her uniform. Being an admired woman in the Army, you’d think she got a life with a silver spoon in her mouth. Quite the opposite actually. She admits having self-esteem issues earlier in her career, despite her superior career achievements. Nadja West is the first feminine African-American general in the history of the US Army, with three-stars. She is the highest-ranking woman to ever graduate from West Point.
West, 56, is married with two kids. She was an orphan and grew up with adopted siblings in a supportive family environment. She considers her life achievements as humbling, being adopted at the tender age of 2 by a military family in DC, along with 11 other adopted kids. She admits to having a difficult early childhood but appreciates what life has offered her.
Her adoptive father was in the army as well. He enlisted in the Army in 1939, during the segregation period. West has also had her fair share of equality issues in the military just like her father before her. She has vehemently lobbied for women’s rights in the military. But surprisingly, Nadja is not the only one that serves in the military. Ten of her 11 adopted siblings also serve in the military. She is the youngest, and was inspired by her older siblings and her father from an early age, to join the military.
West had another –inspiration. Star Trek. Growing up in the 1960s, Star Trek aired on daytime television. Nadja picked her inspiration from the uniformed women in the show. Nadja West was encouraged by her brother to apply to the US Military Academy; she was received into the third class, the women section, in 1978. West is an accomplished Military Alumni alongside her heroes like Grant and McArthur, Patton, names that she used to read about.
She is one of the pioneering women West Point Military Academy. Her class began with 126 women. Only 62 graduated at the end of the training. The training was hard and intimidating but West was determined to graduate. Her daily mantra was ‘Don’t take yourself out of the race.’ She graduated from West Point and then at The George Washington University medical school. She was enlisted in the Army as a medical officer, with her first assignment in the first Gulf War. In the war zone, there wasn’t time to discriminate on her gender or race, the danger was real and all animosity towards her melted away as her expertise took center-stage.
Nadja’s rising through the ranks, as an African-American woman was marred with politics. It was to streamline gender bias in the Military. But she didn’t need that kind of sympathy; she had graduated at the top of her flight surgeon class. She worked for it. She made it to the top due to her brilliance. But West had to face these excruciating challenges, even through blood and sweat. And she’s proud that she made it, defying all odds. Being black, and being a woman. As if that’s not enough her two kids, a son and daughter are following in her footsteps. Can they fill her shoes? Only time will tell.