She's a High Desert girl made good.

Anne DeBaets Gilbride got off to a good start, and was the valedictorian of her class at Apple Valley High School, again at Victor Valley College and again at the University of California, San Diego.

On Tuesday, Gilbride, 51, shared her story with students at Hesperia High School.

"I am just a High Desert kid like you," she told the students assembled in the school cafeteria. "We have that in common."

Gilbride's parents had both served in the Navy, and without telling them, she enlisted herself in the 1970s, and was sworn in as an officer by her father in 1978.

She was just in time for the rules to be changed, and women to be allowed to serve on Navy ships. Gilbride was one of two women serving alongside 1,200 men aboard the USS Frank Cable, a submarine fleet support vessel.

"They affectionately called this 'the Noah's Ark clause,'" she laughed.

But her father, a long-time sailor, had his doubts. His daughter was enlisted as a boatswain, and was supposed to work the heavy equipment aboard ship.

"So, my Daddy, he said," Gilbride paused, surprised to see her father had snuck into the audience there in the cafeteria, "'That's not what they're going to let someone new like you do.'"

But the world had changed, and Gilbride was indeed given the responsibility. She later served as auxiliaries officer and operations officer aboard the Frank Cable as well.

Following her tour aboard the Frank Cable, she was stationed in London, serving at the Fleet Ocean Surveillance Information Center as a Soviet Submarine Specialist.

"I had to find all these submarines," she explained to Scorpions not yet born when the Cold War ended, "Because they can fire all these giant missiles."

After seven years, Gilbride left active duty, and became a member of the Navy Reserves. Serving in the military doesn't always mean active duty, she explained to the students.

Gilbride she continued to rise through the ranks and serve her country, eventually commanding four Navy and joint reserve intelligence units, eventually becoming the commander of Navy Reserve Intelligence Command, a position she held until February 2007.

"I am in the Navy part-time," she told students. "My full-time job is I'm a mom. I've got three kids."

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.