Nov 10, 2022

Many Voices, One Tuck: Meet Veteran Kathryne Crowley T’24

By Tuck Communications

In honor of Veterans Day 2022, we asked current student Kathryne Crowley T’24, a former captain in the army who spent nine years on active duty, to share more about her goals, accomplishments, inspirations, and passions. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I had the privilege of serving as a company commander for a Blackhawk helicopter company for 18 months as one of my last jobs in the army. I took command of my team a year before a scheduled combat deployment and spent the year leading up to departure building a cohesive and collaborative unit to succeed in our assigned mission. My team was very junior, and we had to work extremely hard to be prepared for the ambiguity we knew we would face overseas. We were halfway through our deployment in March of 2020, and COVID added a unique and extremely difficult element to an already tough operating environment. The biggest accomplishment of my career thus far was bringing each one of my fifty teammates home safe from combat after a challenging and dynamic deployment.

What keeps you busy? How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

My son just started crawling, so chasing him around the house keeps me very busy! My husband is still serving in the army and is stationed in Alabama, so I am a geographically-single mama at Tuck; just juggling school and parenthood takes up most of my time.

My little family loves everything outdoors, so the Upper Valley is a wonderful playground for us. We go on many hikes and walks, and can’t wait for ski season to start!

Describe an ah-ha moment for you—a defining moment that changed the course of your life, career, or altered your way of thinking.

My grandfather served in the army as a Huey pilot in Vietnam; I always admired him growing up. He passed away when I was a senior in high school, and I knew that the best way to honor his legacy would be by becoming a pilot in the army.

I am so thankful for the time that I spent in the military; the lessons that I learned, friends that I made, and experiences that I had will stay with me forever. I wore my grandfather’s aviator wings on my uniform and it was so special to have a little bit of him with me while I served.

When my grandfather retired from the army, he began his second career as a financial analyst and portfolio manager. I am so excited to be at Tuck, to pivot to the business world, and continue living my grandfather’s legacy.

What’s something about you only few people know?

I played the trombone in the marching band in college.

In your opinion, what makes a good leader?

I think that the two most important qualities that a leader must possess are compassion and humility.

Humans are complex, emotional beings and leaders must understand that and genuinely care for the people that they lead. They must be humble enough to recognize their own personal shortfalls, and intentionally build their team with colleagues that are smarter than they are in those areas.

How did your time in the military shape you as a leader?

I spent nine years serving in the army as a Blackhawk pilot and had the privilege of leading teams of all sizes and compositions, ranging from a two-pilot helicopter crew to a one-hundred-and-fifty-person helicopter maintenance company, and everything in between. Genuine leadership is hard. People are complicated and emotional and there is never enough time or resources or equipment to accomplish the mission. And when you don’t look or sound like the people that you’re leading, it can be even harder. 

But I think that more than anything, when you feel like an outsider (as I often did as the only woman in the tent or the cockpit) you become your own worst enemy. You focus on what makes you different rather than what you bring to the table, and get stuck in your own head. And that’s never a great place to be.

I found myself doing this when I was a young lieutenant; I second-guessed myself often and assumed everyone wanted me to fail to reinforce the stereotype that women don’t belong in these types of jobs. No one ever said this to me, but my own insecurities decided it must be true. Quite frankly, it was exhausting. And it became a self-fulfilling prophecy: I spent so much time worrying about not doing well that my performance was actually poor. It was the worst kind of feedback loop.

One day it dawned on me: the male lieutenants were making the same mistakes as me, and not antagonizing over it; we were all new and just not very good yet. And that was okay! I was a woman, and that wasn’t going to change, but what I could change was my mindset. I stopped worrying about what other people thought about me, and instead focused on being the best version of myself. I worked extremely hard to be excellent; I never wanted to give anyone a reason to think that I wasn’t good enough, but I also let go of the idea that everyone was betting against me. 

Once I stopped worrying about being different, I started having a lot more fun and became much more successful. Self-sabotage is real, and I will never again allow those thoughts of inadequacy to consume my time and hold me back from anything.

Kathryne grew up in Rhode Island and earned her bachelor’s degree from Boston College. After graduation, she commissioned as a second lieutenant in the army and spent nine years on active duty flying Blackhawk helicopters all over the world. She moved to New Hampshire with her husband Matt and son Liam (7m). Kathryne’s favorite part of Tuck is the strong sense of community, Matt’s is the proximity to ski mountains, and Liam’s is the colorful trees!

Many Voices, One Tuck celebrates the stories of our vibrant and diverse community. What’s your story? Email DEI at Tuck if you’d like to contribute to the MVOT project.

Note: MVOT is open to members of the Tuck community, including students, alumni, faculty, staff, TEE, and Tuck Bridge participants, and MHCDS graduates.