Navy Pilot Becky Calder Visits Sacred Heart Greenwich; Proves that Not Even the Sky’s the Limit

On Wednesday, September 7, Sacred Heart Greenwich welcomed a true “Maverick” to Campus: Commander Rebecca Calder, US Navy Reserve.

Commander Calder has the distinction of being the first female pilot to graduate from the elite U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN). And yes, she says, “it really is as cool as it looks in the movie.”

Commander Calder spent the day visiting students throughout Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools, granting an interview with fourth grade reporters, Kit Lucey and Reagan Driskill,  and making a presentation to the Middle School. During the evening, Commander Calder spoke to a packed theater of Upper School students and families, launching the fall sports season and inspiring the entire community by her story of hard work, resilience, and service, in and out of the cockpit. 

Commander Calder’s talk centered around a single purpose: finding your why. For Upper School students, this question might sound like…why should I try out for this team? Why should I take that class? Why should I choose this college? For Commander Calder, her life changed when she realized why she was meant to serve in the armed forces. The moment happened during a chance encounter with someone who had been involved in a mission she flew in Khost, Afghanistan. It was then that Commander Calder learned how her air support and fire power had saved lives, and she’d been the answer to their desperate prayer for help. 

Throughout her career, whether it was playing basketball in the U.S. Naval Academy, earning her designation as a Naval Aviator, or coming back from spinal surgery to walk a marathon, Commander Calder credits teamwork with being an essential ingredient to her success. “Working towards and for something is what you do when you join a team,” she told her riveted audience, “…and it’s also what you do when you become a Sacred Heart student.”

Commander Calder left listeners with three calls to action: find your passion, persevere, and know your purpose. She illustrated each mandate with examples from her own life of challenge, adversity, and triumph, reminding everyone about the importance of sharing our stories, “especially the hard ones.”

And if there’s one thing that Commander Calder wants all students to remember? “Finding your why isn’t always right in front of you. But if you’re willing to work hard, anything is possible. You are worthy.”