"I don't think I could have done it without their help," Churchey said." That was the low point of (my) Naval Academy (experience), delaying my dream."
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"It's really cool how another generation really influenced her decision," Friend said. "What has fascinated me is (how) the Navy is such a big family."
Churchey said she changed her major from chemistry to oceanography, but still hopes to one day study medicine, perhaps after her time in the Navy.
The summer before her senior year, Churchey interned with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hurricane Hunters, an experience that birthed a new dream.
"They actually let me fly a plane and I got a lot of hands-on experience," she said, and added that is when she knew she wanted to become a pilot.
Naval Academy graduates are required to serve at least five years after their graduation, and seniors receive an envelope with a letter telling them their assignment for service on Selection Service Night.
Churchey had applied for Navy pilot, but said she was concerned she would not be selected because she did not have as much aviation experience as some of the other applicants.
"It's very competitive. Next to the Marines, it's one of the most competitive services," she said.
Churchey said she was so nervous that she had a friend open her envelope, and she was thrilled to read, "Congratulations Brittany Churchey. You have been selected Navy pilot."
"The highest point (of the Naval Academy) was the Service Selection Night," she said.
Although Churchey's Navy journey has not always been smooth-sailing, she said she is glad she persevered.
"It was 200 percent worth it," she said. "It makes you a stronger person when you graduate, and you make so many lifelong friendships."