Breaking the Glass Ceiling, Opha May Becomes The Marine's First Female Mascot

A glass ceiling is a metaphor used to describe an invisible barrier that keeps a given demographic (typically applied to minorities or a certain class or gender) from rising beyond a certain level in a hierarchy. For instance, when women in America achieve something of significance for the first time, they are in essence "breaking the glass ceiling."

Dog-gone it!

But when we speak about females, we're not only talking about homo sapiens. Females in other species may also achieve this distinction. As an example, what could a bulldog possibly have in common with Hillary Clinton? Well, Clinton was the first 'female' in history to become a presidential candidate to run for office in the United States. Similarly in  August 2017, Opha May became the first female bulldog ever to become a mascot for the Marines. Additionally, this military pooch graduated from training in November, 2017 to proudly assume the position of "Parris Island's 21st mascot."

 . . . and Opha May earned the rank of private when she was officially appointed "mascot."

First Female Marine . . .

Apropos, Opha was named in honor of Opha Mae Johnson, who also broke a glass ceiling one hundred years ago. In 1918, she enlisted in the Corps as the first female Marine, according to the Women Marines Association. By war’s end, Johnson was a senior enlisted woman, having been promoted to sergeant.

Nicknamed a "Marinette" Johnson's nurses duties included tending to the victims of the 1918 influenza pandemic. However, by the time the Second World War rolled around, as top officers realized how vital women were to marine duties, she lost the cutesy nickname and gained respect on equal par with male marines.


Parris Island’s mascots date back to 1914. The first was an Irish Terrier named “Mike,” for whom a memorial stands near the commanding general’s home — it’s the oldest monument on base.


The Marine Corps honorably discharges its mascots after a few years, giving the dogs plenty of time to enjoy retirement with their adoptive families. As you can imagine, the application process to adopt one of the Corps’ retired canine companions is very competitive. When Opha May's retirement rolls around, I'm sure there will be an exceedingly long waiting list of families waiting to adopt this "glass-ceiling-breaking" bulldog . . . don't you think?

Breaking the Glass Ceiling, Opha May Becomes The Marine's First Female Mascot

Primary Source: Island Packet