Berkeley Today Stories

Berkeley College student and Marine Corps Veteran Jonathan Callaway at the White House with POTUS

Marine Vet Credits Berkeley Honors Program and Faculty with Boost Towards Top Ranking for Army Officers' School



Berkeley College student and Marine Corps Veteran Jonathan Callaway at the White House with POTUS


As great as it was to be Marine Corps crew chief on the Marine One helicopter flying President Obama around the world, Jonathan Callaway, who will soon graduate from Berkeley College, is making an even bigger dream come true.

“I’m going to be the first in my family to be an Army officer,” said Sgt. Callaway, 26. “My family has a long history in the military, but I’ll be the first officer. When I told my mother, she burst into tears and said my grandparents would be so proud of me.”

Sgt. Callaway, who expects to graduate mid-2016 from Berkeley College with a B.B.A. in International Business, said the College Honors program, rigorous curriculum, and supportive faculty gave him the academic challenges and confidence to make him realize he could succeed intellectually.

That led to him applying to Army Officers’ School where 40 competed and only three were selected. Not only did he make it, he ranked first.

A Quick Thank You Note to Berkeley Honors Director

On April 18, two days after getting the thrilling news, Sgt. Callaway eagerly wrote a thank you letter to Byron Hargrove, Ph.D., Director of the College Honors Program and a faculty member in Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Liberal Arts, at Berkeley, who had supported him and written a letter of reference.

“Thank you very much for your letter and support,” Sgt. Callaway wrote. “I’m sure your words helped them make their decision to not only pick me for this, but to also rank me as the best overall candidate.”

Flying with the President All Over the U.S. and the World

As for his time shuttling the President of the United States, Sgt. Callaway said it “was humbling” to often be sitting near him, and sometimes his wife and daughters, on the helicopter.

“I’m from a very tiny town in Texas, with not many people, surrounded by corn,” said Sgt. Callaway, referring to Princeton, TX. “So for me to be sitting a foot away from the President was really cool.”

Opportunities to chat with POTUS were few and far between since Sgt. Callaway had to focus on his duties. However, the president did talk to him a bit at a “grip and grin” at the White House where President Obama thanks military service members. President Obama asked Sgt. Callaway what he is studying and posed for a photo with him.

Sgt. Callaway served in the Marines from 2008 to 2013 and was crew chief on Marine One during the last two years of that time.

Sgt. Callaway, who will complete his College career at the end of the summer, will attend Army Officers’ School and then pilot training, all of which should take about a year and a half, and then he will pilot UH60 Army Black Hawk helicopters.

Currently, the Upper East Side resident is in the Army Reserves, participates in a few clubs at Berkeley while he is completing his courses, and volunteers with the American Cancer Society and the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

Up Close with Sgt. Jonathan Callaway

Sgt. Jonathan Callaway credits the Berkeley College faculty and the Honors program with challenging him intellectually, boosting his confidence, and encouraging him to apply to Army Officers’ School.

Here are his thoughts about success and how Berkeley prepared him to reach his goals:

Q. What does success mean to you?

A. Success is when you come home at the end of the day and you’ve made a difference. It’s when you know you couldn’t have done any better.

Q. How did Berkeley prepare you for success?

A. After I served in the Marines, I worked for the FBI for a short time, but I felt like I wasn’t hired for my brain. So when I started going to school, I realized I could do well. When I was a freshman, I got all As and a 4.00. I realized I could graduate with a 4.00. Berkeley gave me the confidence and the boost to know I could sit down at an interview and that they’ll be impressed with what I’ve done intellectually.

Q. How do you see yourself being successful in the future?

A. Being an officer will lead me to being a leader. Down the road, being successful will mean being able to influence a group of people to rise above their challenges.

Q. What advice would you give to college-bound students?

A. Show up on time and attempt everything you’re supposed to do. Accept challenges and do your best.