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Graduate to pursue career as naval pilot

| Friday, May 18, 2018

As the only Saint Mary’s graduating member of Notre Dame’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC), senior Kayla Savage will continue the College’s legacy of service through her long-term goal of becoming a naval pilot.

Savage said in an email that after graduation she will pursue an education at a naval school in California.

“I will have the opportunity of spending 12 to 18 months at Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, California earning my master’s degree in regional and security studies [for the Western Hemisphere],” she said. “Following my education, I will spend two years as a student naval aviator in Pensacola, Florida, and, God willing, will be winged as a Navy pilot. As a pilot, I’ll be spending at least eight more years in the Navy.”

Savage said she will miss the encouragement and spirituality that both the College and ROTC provided during her four years.

“During my hunt for colleges, I prioritized an environment that would encourage my spiritual and intellectual growth,” she said. “Saint Mary’s has absolutely been an amazing place for these goals, and ROTC has only helped. Between school and my ROTC events, spirituality has been at the center of everything I do. We are given countless options and opportunities to speak with religious leaders, and we are encouraged to find some sort of spiritual center to ground ourselves in. I have learned to maintain that while pushing myself intellectually. It’s been so difficult, but so rewarding.”

Savage said she has always wanted to be part of an institution that challenged her to be better.

“When picturing what kind of career and life I’d like to have, I’ve always thought I wanted something that constantly challenged me to be better and to do better, not just for my own sake but also for others,” she said. “I wanted to help make our world a better and safer place. The Navy seemed, to me, the best way to accomplish the type of lifestyle I was looking for … of course, the opportunity to travel and see the world was also a little enticing.”

During her time at Saint Mary’s, Savage said the hardest part was balancing the time commitments the College and ROTC required of her.

“I think time management was the most difficult balance for me between ROTC and college,” she said. “Depending on the job you hold in ROTC that semester, it can be almost like a full-time job on top of school. Especially as a [Saint Mary’s student], I had to organize myself to block out extra time to drive over to ND for all the ROTC events. But, once I finally learned clear and consistent organization, I learned that there is so much more you can accomplish in a day.”

Savage said her time at Saint Mary’s and in ROTC has taught her many life skills that will benefit her after graduation.

I’ve learned selflessness, diligence, cooperation, understanding, patience, prioritization and the importance of supportive and healthy relationships,” she said. 

Success is persistence in the face of adversity, Savage said. 

“To me, success is never giving up,” she said. “Sometimes it requires a little creativity and a lot of resilience, but success is when you just don’t give up in the fight for something better.”

Savage also said her responses do not reflect the views of the Naval ROTC or of the larger Navy. 

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About Gina Twardosz

Gina Twardosz is a senior English Writing and Communication Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. She's the co-editor of the Investigative Unit, a Saint Mary's social media liaison, and she occasionally writes for SMC News and Scene. Gina is a tried and true Midwesterner and yes, she does say "ope" often.

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