Becoming a Naval Helicopter Pilot
"Lieutenant Junior Grade Kayla Alexander!" The emcee's announcement echoed throughout the auditorium, prompting a loud round of applause and cheers. Alexander rose to her feet, walking confidently to the stage.
On the chest of her mostly blank dress white uniform, there was a space that would soon be filled by a pair of shining, golden wings - the culmination of more than two years of what Alexander said is one of the most difficult and prestigious training pipelines the Navy has to offer.
Alexander's journey began more than a decade prior: When she was a child, she remembers seeing helicopters flying over her home and being both perplexed and intrigued.
"I thought they were the weirdest things ever," said Alexander. "It was amazing to me how they could just defy gravity like that."
The curiosity and interest in flying stuck with Alexander, but she never thought she'd actually have an opportunity to do it; instead she focused on a future career in health care. When speaking to a Navy recruiter after college, she thought back to her interest in flying, and decided to take the plunge, signing up to be a naval aviator.
"I knew from the get-go I wanted to fly helicopters - that's why I joined the Navy," she said.