U.S Army Photo by Spc. Osama Ayyad, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) Public Affairs Office
December 16, 2015 05:00 PM

A West Point alumna whose classmates predicted she one day would become Superintendent of the Army’s storied Military Academy will become its first female Commandant of Cadets, the Army announced this week.

Brigadier General Diana Holland, who graduated the Class of 1990 as Diana Leach, will take position as the 76th Commandant of Cadets in January, the Army confirmed.

“I am very honored to be named the next Commandant of the U.S. Corps of Cadets,” Holland said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “It’s a privilege to be part of the team that trains and develops leaders of character for our Army. I look forward to continuing the legacy set by … all previous commandants.”

Holland is currently Deputy Commanding General (Support) for the Army’s 10th Mountain Division (Light) at Fort Drum, New York. She has been in that position since July, when she was promoted from the rank of colonel to become that installation’s first woman general and the first to serve as a deputy commander for one of the Army’s light infantry divisions.

A career engineer, Holland has had numerous assignments, including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and a stint at the Pentagon.

A native of California, Holland’s potential for leadership was on her classmates’ radar from the start.

“We knew she was destined for greatness…” wrote her class yearbook editors, who described her as “A true workaholic and a true friend.”

Noting that the former Diana Leach was co-captain of women’s lacrosse and belonged to the Chinese club, among other activities, the classmate-editors predicted that the 5’1 cadet eventually would return to West Point as both a history professor and Superintendent.

The first prediction came true, when Holland began a five-year post as a history professor at the Academy.

Holland later told West Point interviewers that while serving on the faculty she honed skills that she took with her to other assignments.

Holland was originally slated to accompany her current unit to Afghanistan this fall. Instead, she will remain in New York and take command during a ceremony scheduled for Jan. 5.

The Army welcomes her.

“Diana’s operational and command experiences will bring a new and diverse perspective to West Point’s leadership team,” said the Army’s Acting Secretary, Eric Fanning, in a statement. “She is absolutely the right person for this critical position.”

“Diana Holland is a superb leader who has a phenomenal reputation throughout the Army,” said the Academy’s Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen. “She is immensely qualified for the job and we look forward to her joining the West Point team as commandant.”

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