On Thursday, Tonya Boyd made history as the first Black woman deputy chief of the FDNY.

Boyd has been on the job for 21 years, after she first started in the FDNY’s Emergency Medical Services to earn money for college when she was pursuing a nursing degree.

“The FDNY offered a wonderful program that let us go to school from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” Boyd recalled of her early years. “I became a paramedic after about seven years.”

Boyd, who as an EMT receives promotions based on the discretion of her superiors, rather than through exams like firefighters take to rise through the ranks, said that she was honored by the promotion.

“I’m so excited and I am so blessed,” she told the New York Daily News. “After hearing about the promotion, I couldn’t believe it. I feel like I’ve knocked down a door and opened it for a lot of EMTs just starting on this job.”

Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro praised Boyd for her exceptional service and talents, saying, “Tonya is not only helping to raise the bar for our ability to provide pre-hospital care, she’s also demonstrating to young women of all backgrounds the incredible rewarding career they can achieve in the FDNY.”