Napolitano Leaving Obama Cabinet

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WASHINGTON (CNN) — Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will resign and be named president of the University of California system, she announced Friday.

She will leave the Department of Homeland Security in September, a source familiar with the decision told CNN.

According to the source, who spoke on condition of not being identified, Napolitano considered her situation to be a bittersweet choice because she loves her job but felt she had to take the unique opportunity offered her.

Napolitano, 55, was confirmed as the nation’s third homeland security secretary and the first woman to hold the post the day after President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

In a statement released Friday, she called working with homeland security personnel who protect the nation “the highlight of my professional career.”

“After four plus years of focusing on these challenges, I will be nominated as the next president of the University of California to play a role in educating our nation’s next generation of leaders,” Napolitano’s statement said.

She graduated from the University of Santa Clara in California in 1979 as its first female valedictorian.

Obama thanked Napolitano for what he called outstanding work in dealing with “some of the toughest challenges facing our country.”

He cited her leadership in recovery efforts from natural disasters such as Superstorm Sandy, dealing with the volatile immigration issue and protecting the nation against terrorist attacks.

“I’ve come to rely on Janet’s judgment and advice, but I’ve also come to value her friendship,” Obama said, wishing her luck “as she begins a new chapter in a remarkable career of public service.”

A breast cancer survivor, Napolitano was attorney general and then governor of Arizona before joining Obama’s Cabinet.

CNN’s Gabriella Schwarz, Greg Seaby and Carol Cratty contributed to this report.

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