While most college seniors were looking for jobs or applying to grad school, George Washington softball recent alumna Julie Orlandi has known since October what she would be doing after last weekend's university Commencement ceremony on the National Mall.
The mathematics major was accepted into Naval flight school and will report to Pensacola, Fla., on June 7.
A native of Calvert County, Md., Orlandi came to GW on a full scholarship from the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. All NROTC midshipmen commission as ensigns into the Navy after graduation and serve in one of the various Navy warfare communities, which include surface warfare officer ("traditional" surfaces ships), submarine officer, Naval aviator (pilot) or Naval flight officer ("co-pilots" who operate the advanced weapons and electronic systems on board the aircraft).
"I chose to be a pilot because I always thought it would be an awesome job to fly for the Navy," said Orlandi, whose father served in the Navy after participating in NROTC at the University of Louisville. "I always wanted to do something exciting with my career, and after meeting many Navy pilots, it's definitely a community I want to be a part of."
After completing her flight training, which will take about two years, Orlandi will earn her Wings of Gold and be assigned to a squadron depending on what type of aircraft she is trained to fly. Service commitment times vary according to the field; as a pilot, which requires considerable training, Orlandi will owe 10 years of service to the Navy to pay back her scholarship.
A second baseman, Orlandi walked onto the softball team after a tryout in the fall of her freshman year and played in more games (186) in her four years than all but two players in program history, all while essentially pulling triple duty as a student-athlete and midshipman, balancing the demands of academics, athletics and NROTC.
As a midshipman, Orlandi spent eight-to-10 hours a week at the NROTC unit, which included physical training, organizational meetings, classwork, watch standing and a two-hour drill period. As a member of the GW softball team, Orlandi also spent nearly every day of the spring semester and a good chunk of the fall at the field for practice or games. And as a student, she was required to maintain a minimum GPA or risk losing her scholarship.
"Over the years I have learned how to prioritize and manage my time so that I'm not stressed," Orlandi said. "My freshman year it was really difficult to fit everything I needed to get done into the little time I had, but by senior year I learned how to manage my busy schedule."