NEW YORK (PIX11) — As we honor our men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, we’re also highlighting a trailblazing woman in charge of the largest permanent military unit in the New York region of the United States Coast Guard. 

U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Zeita Merchant is the captain of the port and gave PIX11 News a chance to see her on the job. Many said Merchant is regarded as the most respected amongst influential leaders up and down the chain of command in the Coast Guard. Merchant oversees more than 1,000 personnel here in New York and New Jersey.

Since May 2021, Merchant has directed all Coast Guard missions in the Port of New York and New Jersey. She makes it look easy but It’s one of the biggest operational jobs in the Coast Guard. She is always ready. 

Merchant comes from humble beginnings. During her junior year in college, she didn’t know how she would pay for medical school. But, then, there was a Coast Guard recruiter on camp, us and 26 years later. Now she is in charge of the waters surrounding the greatest city in the world.

Her message is women can lead in any position and do an amazing job. However, Merchant urges women to push themselves and that it’s outside their comfort zone where growth happens.

If you want to learn more about opportunities in the Coast Guard, you can visit their website here.