Join Now

Former Navy Pilot Succeeds in Law School


By Eileen M. Laux.

With a stellar military background, McCollough is currently a fourth-year student at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, California. She grew up going to air shows and slowly started to notice that she never saw female pilots. Her dream of becoming a pilot started to come alive when she was recruited to the Air Force Academy. She later graduated from the Naval Academy in 2001, and shortly after September 11, she started flight school.

She was “winged” in August 2003 as an aviator, flying a MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter. McCollough was stationed in San Diego and successfully completed three tours in the Middle East. She had just returned from her first deployment when she was told by her commanding officers that she was headed to New Orleans after the levees broke during Hurricane Katrina.

“We were given a few hours to pack our bags,” she says. “With two or three helicopters, we were picking up people off rooftops all over New Orleans. All kinds of things were happening. We were doing everything from dropping off medical supplies to helping people who were stuck. You name it, we did it.”

From 2003 to 2012, she flew more than 1,000 hours as a helicopter pilot, operations manager, and safety department head. Overall, she rescued 43 survivors during Hurricane Katrina and delivered more than 57,000 pounds of supplies.

McCollough says her interest in law was sparked when she saw Judge Advocates General in action. She was interested in the way those officers helped build interactive democracy, especially within the legal realm. She began to think about her life beyond the Navy, took the LSAT, and started law school that fall.

She has since left the Navy, but had two and a half years of active duty as a law student. McCollough interned at the Department of Justice in the Antitrust Division. She says it was within the government, but still had a law firm feel to it.

“I went to law school because I wanted to see every side,” she says. “I have been through Constitutional Law, and I understood it better because of my time in the military. I have really enjoyed my experience with it.”

Jennifer After Class

Favorite fictional lawyers

Elle Woods (Legally Blonde) and JoAnne Galloway (A Few Good Men)

On your bucket list

Ski all seven continents

Last book you read for pleasure

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand


After doing rescues in Phuket, would like to travel back to Thailand

Favorite Quote

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”––George Eliot


Eileen M. Laux, a 3L at Florida Coastal School of Law, is student editor of Student Lawyer.

Vol. 41 No. 6

Student Lawyer Student Lawyer magazine provides guidance on educational, career, and related issues for ABA Law Student Division members and other subscribers. It is published four times a year by the Law Student Division of the American Bar Association. Student Lawyer is available online to members of the ABA Law Student Division and to print subscribers.

Popular Stories