By Brittany King
There’s no denying Gabrielle loves a good challenge.
While attending Princeton University — where she earned her bachelor’s degree in engineering — Gabrielle decided to walk onto the rowing team and try a sport she’d only ever heard of while watching the Olympics. Despite being a novice, Gabrielle excelled quickly, graduating as an All-American with several Ivy League titles and a gold medal in the Under 23 World Championship.
Her time on the water undoubtedly helped propel her in other areas. After graduation, Gabrielle earned two master’s degrees — in physics and mechanical engineering — before joining Northrop Grumman’s Pathways program. Not long after joining the company, she set her eyes on a new challenge: enlisting in the U.S. Army National Guard. Much like other decisions in her life, this, too, was strategic — a step toward her goal of becoming a helicopter pilot.
In 2021, Gabrielle took a military leave of absence from work to attend flight school at Fort Rucker in Alabama, putting everything she had — emotionally and mentally — into the all-encompassing flight school experience.
“I want to do things that I think are both hard and fun and, often, there’s a lot of overlap between those two groups,” said Gabrielle.
Fifteen months later, she graduated as an UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot. As graduation neared, she worked with Northrop Grumman to determine a plan for returning to work and her team.
She credits Northrop Grumman’s flexibility and focus on employee development for allowing her to fully step away for flight school, then easing her transition back to the company.
“Northrop Grumman has given me a wide breadth of experience in a condensed period of time,” said Gabrielle. “There are no words to express my gratitude for the support and encouragement I felt while taking on my new role as a member of the National Guard.”
A Full Spectrum Experience
Today, Gabrielle has two jobs — with Northrop Grumman and with the Illinois National Guard — but she sees them as two sides of the same coin.
When Gabrielle is dressed in fatigues, sitting in the cockpit of a UH-60, she is focused on the equipment, the mission and the task, she said. For a pilot and crew, that means relying on technology companies like Northrop Grumman for quality, mission-ready equipment — including the Black Hawk’s digital cockpit avionics package, designed by Northrop Grumman to enhance situational awareness for pilot and mission safety.
“We are in the business of returning parents to their kids, and that sticks with me.”
When Gabrielle walks through the doors of the Northrop Grumman facility in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, the mission (and much of the equipment) is the same — it’s her vantage point that changes. Gabrielle works on the AN/APR-39D(V)2 and the AN/APR-39E(V)2, radar warning receivers that fly on military aircraft to provide situational awareness to pilots, like Gabrielle, and their aircrews.
“One thing that has shone through to me as I’ve made this transition is that we’re a service provider with customers. We provide equipment that people I know and serve with depend on,” said Gabrielle. “We are in the business of returning parents to their kids, and that sticks with me.”
Gabrielle doesn’t take lightly to the fact that her fellow aircrew and the National Guard members she serves alongside rely on the work she does at Northrop Grumman.
“It drives everything home for me and gives me a sense of pride and reverence — we’re doing something pretty incredible,” said Gabrielle.
Watch Gabrielle explain how her home team advantage has transformed her experience at Northrop Grumman and in the National Guard.
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