Lt. Col. Elizabeth Eaton-Ferenzi is the first woman to command the Cavalier ROTC Battalion at the University of Virginia.

But Eaton-Ferenzi doesn’t feel additional pressure beyond that of being an active-duty Army officer. She said the Army has opened all its schools and combat positions to women, including the Special Forces.

“There are some unique struggles for females in the Army, but I think over the years things have gotten slowly, incrementally better year after year,” she said. “I’m interested to hear from the female cadets here what their experiences are and what they perceive as their struggles. Hopefully we can keep closing that gap little by little.”

Eaton-Ferenzi, a combat helicopter pilot, was most recently stationed at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.

“I was working at United States Central Command with the Commander’s Action Group, in charge of the Levant portfolio – Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq – and I did a lot of travel every month to the Middle East,” Eaton-Ferenzi said. “I was looking for a change of pace and for something a little bit more broadening. The brigade commander reached out and asked if I’d be interested in being a professor of military science.”

Eaton-Ferenzi holds degrees from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where she was an Army ROTC cadet, and Columbia University. She also brings combat experience to her post, having served a 13-month deployment in Afghanistan. She was also stationed in Africa and Honduras.

“The primary missions were counter narcotics and humanitarian aid/disaster relief,” Eaton-Ferenzi said of her Central American deployment. “The day after I took command, the Haiti earthquake happened, so I had a small contingent over in Haiti and I joined them at Port-au-Prince. During my deployment, we were all over Central America – Panama, El Salvador, Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua – and we did humanitarian aid for mudslides in El Salvador.”