Growing up with both parents in the Navy, a grandfather who served in World War I and World War II, it only seemed natural to follow the family tradition by serving the country in some way. For this Pierce College student, following her family’s tradition was not what she initially had in mind.
Barbara Lombrano, is originally from Sulphur, Louisiana where she attended Sulphur High School and received a band scholarship to McNeese State University located in Lake Charles, Louisiana where she majored in law. Lombrano’s joined a local sorority called Chi Omega where she began making new friends on campus but soon realized that it all wasn’t quiet for her. Taking a break from her academics she later decided to make a fresh new start and transferred to Louisiana State University (LSU) where she moved in with her father close to Baton Rouge. She then realized that school wasn’t exactly where she was destined to be and decided to join the Navy.
“It didn’t feel like college was where I needed to be,” Lombrano said.
Excited to follow her family’s tradition, Lombrano quickly became disappointed when the recruiter announced that there was a delay with their entry program. Adding her name to a long list of new recruits, Lombrano was told she would be contacted later that year. The week before her 19th birthday, Lombrano unexpectedly received a phone call requesting her to report to duty and head to Houston to begin the process of the American Navy Reserve.
“I celebrated my 19th birthday in bootcamp,” Lombrano said.
After bootcamp Lombrano was stationed in Hawaii for two years and worked as a secretary for the engineering department where she was able to practice her law skills she learned at LSU. While she visited the dental office, Lombrano met a dental technician and became very interested in that field of work. As the technician expressed her excitement about being in the dentistry field, Lombrano felt it would be a great fit and decided to give it a shot. After being approved Lombrano started the dental program where she trained for several months and moved on to dental school.
“I loved it,” Lombrano said.
Several years later Lambrano at the age of 50 is a full-time student and mother of two who was recently elected to the American Legion as commander of the Moorpark post. The American Legion is the largest veterans service organization in the world with a mission to serve their military members, veterans and their families.
“She’s a very strong and smart woman. She’s fair and open minded, we need more people like her. This is the stuff she loves to do,” said Natasha Oleas, daughter of Lombrano.
Although it has taken 48 years for a female to become a commander of the Moorpark post, records show that there are more men than women who were elected as commander of the American Legion.
“For some reason women don’t think they’re vets. My goal is to really be out there and have a face for the legion and try to get more women involved,” Lombrano said.
“I believe diversity makes any organization run much better.”
Lombrano and the American Legion want to make the world a better place for all serving veterans and students. She works closely with the American Legion Boys and Girls State, attends high school events and teaches students about proper flag etiquette. Boys and Girls State, is one of the most respected educational programs offered in U.S. high schools where students get hands on experience in writing bills, running for office, and becoming part of the operation of local, county and state government.
“These types of activities are necessary to build traits and characteristics that cannot be taught in the classroom,” said Assistant Professor, Kaycea Campbell.
“Barbara embodies what the American Legion stands for. She has all the necessary leadership traits, sets an excellent example and is a role model for both men and women to follow.”
Lombrano believes that being in the military is a personal decision and great way to gain experience while training in the service while still being able to attend college. She plans to transfer to California State University, Northridge where she will work towards her bachelor’s degree in business management.
“She [Lombrano] is enrolled in my Women in Politics class where we talk about breaking the barriers for women and as you can see barriers are still being broken,” said Denise Munro Robb, Assistant Professor.
“It’s very exciting, we’re lucky to have her.”
Lombrano will continue her extracurricular activities while managing work, school, and her role as a commander of the American Legion. She still finds time to promote her banner program that gives veterans the opportunity to have their own banner that includes their name and branch of service. The banners are hung outside of the city for citizens to a take a moment of silence for those who served the country. She will also be participating in Moorpark Country Days on Sept. 27 located on Historic High Street where there will be a parade free of charge welcoming all to come and celebrate.