With her helmet, flak jacket, and rifle in hand, Maj. D’Amato spent 2010–11 in Afghanistan’s violent Helmand province rebuilding schools and persuading families that it was safe to return. When the Marine reservist and graduate of Berkeley’s Principal Leadership Institute arrived for duty, no children were attending school. She worked with military and international partners to repair and construct schools, train teachers, and develop curricula. Today, more than 25,000 children are in school — including 1,000 girls — and enrollment is rising despite ongoing security concerns. In a San Francisco Chronicle interview, Maj. D’Amato said that functioning schools increase the perception of security. “Schools evoke a lot of hope in people,” she said. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. on how technology can alleviate learning challenges in the United States. She received the Cal Alumni Association’s 2013 Mark Bingham Award for Excellence in Achievement by a Young Alumnus/a.