PVAMU Alumna Gets Wings, Achieves Dream of Flying in U.S. Navy

Prairie View A&M University alumna Emily Garcia (’15) is living out her dreams, flying a jet as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy. She is the only female Hispanic officer in her squadron called the Shadowhawks, which is currently in the middle of a three-year assignment near Japan.

“The journey to get here is definitely one I will remember forever,” said Garcia. “Ultimately, it all started with accepting my admission to Prairie View,” said Garcia.

Garcia stepped on “The Hill” back in 2010 as a first-generation college student, with little military exposure and no idea about what was to come in her path ahead.

“I remember talking it over with my mother and asking her for advice as to which branch of the military to go into,” said Garcia. “I was torn between the Navy and the Marines, but I eventually chose Navy, and it was the best decision I ever made. I attained leadership opportunities, mentored other students, and traveled. All that I experienced was something I’d never imagined.”

Leading into her sophomore year, Garcia got her first taste of flying at CORTRAMID, a four-week summer experience for midshipmen.

“We stayed in a destroyer-class naval ship and shadowed sailors,” said Garcia. “We talked to pilots and flew in a T-6 aircraft – this is where I knew I just had to be in aviation.”

Garcia graduated from PVAMU with a degree in Chemical Engineering and a minor in Naval Science.

“Prairie View will always hold a big place in my heart,” said Garcia. “I will always remember the motto, ‘Prairie View Produces Productive People,’ and I am glad to say that I am one of those people. I realized there was so much more to what I was doing in school. I was creating the foundation for the future I wanted to have.”

She aspired to become a naval aviator.

“To become a naval aviator, the first thing you have to do is get your measurements taken,” she said. “To be a pilot, the shortest you can be is 5’2.” When the officer took my measurements, he told me I was 5’1.77.” That devastated me because I knew what it meant.”

But, the height shortcoming didn’t let it stop her. Garcia proceeded on a similar journey to become a naval flight officer or an NFO.

“NFO’s are not at the controls of an aircraft like a pilot is, but they have wings and are just as important and qualified as pilots are,” said Garcia.

She worked hard and secured her coveted Navy “Wings of Gold,” which means she was ready to fly.

“I learned to fly four types of aircraft and was no longer considered a student…but the learning didn’t stop,” said Garcia. “Things would forever continue to improve and evolve. As a lesson to myself and others, we must be willing to put in the work and keep up. Sometimes we don’t exactly know what our dreams are, but if we start working towards something and end up reaching our goals, we get to see that what may seem impossible can very much be attainable with hard work and determination. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.”

>Garcia is now a qualified electronic warfare officer, or an EWO, flying a Boeing EA-18G Growler in VAQ-141 Shadowhawks. After her sea tour ends, she is looking to go to HAVOC, the U.S. Navy’s Airborne Electronic Attack Weapons School.

By Marchita Shilo