Before I introduce you to the winner, I'd like to take some time to thank all of the people that contributed to the Girls With Wings Scholarship, some by becoming an ATC Crewmember, others through donations. For example, I'd like to thank an individual (and she knows who she is!) for her continuing annual contribution toward our fund. This year we also received $500 from Rob Riggen, the president of Flying High Coffee, who donates a portion of the profits from incredibly-awesome-coffee sales to benefit aviation organizations. Other folks used the Paypal button on our website to make donations and some contributed during their purchase from the Girls With Wings Pilot Shop, brought to you by Very Important Pilots, LLC., the licensed retailer of Girls With Wings items.
Selecting a scholarship winner is not an easy thing to do. Actually, setting up a scholarship program is not easy, either! We are trying to learn our lessons every year and improve the process and the pool of applicants but there is nothing we can do when people apply for the scholarship but do not a. qualify, or b. comply. One third of this year's submissions didn't include every item that was outlined on the application document and were therefore immediately disqualified. We have a list of criteria that must be met, from expressed emotions such as motivation and enthusiasm to more tangible qualifications such as whether the individuals had completed their solo flights. To accomplish the comprehensive judging, applicants are examined in their use of social media sources, such as Facebook (and how said applicants portray themselves), whether the applicant has participated in GWW or other aviation and educational outreach activities, and other factors such as professional courtesy and clearly stated plans and goals for their training.
However, the most important element to the Girls With Wings Scholarship criteria is the desire and ability of the applicant to make a good Girls With Wings role model. This is difficult to determine when the majority of the essays submitted do not mention these factors... or even the words Girls With Wings. We do understand that we are asking our applicants to be willing to give something back to the aviation community, and so this scholarship is not a right fit for everyone.
Sadly, this meant that the vast majority of the applicants were not eligible to be awarded $1000 toward the pursuit of a private pilot's certificate. We'd like to think that folks donate funds to GWW because they believe in our mission. We could just give the money to anyone who applies (because certainly we felt that many applicants were deserving of assistance), but we'd prefer to stick to the reason the scholarship fund was founded: To use women in aviation to inspire girls to reach their full potential. Therefore, the Girls With Wings board has resolved to retain the remainder of the current funds and perfect the scholarship process before the next opportunity. Everyone who applied this year is encouraged to reapply during the next scholarship cycle. In return, we will make a greater effort to make more clear what we'd like to see from the applicants and attempt to let more people know of our scholarship. If you'd like to participate in our our program, please email me.
So who was the deserving winner of the $1000 scholarship?
Kaitlyn Hollingsworth, the daughter of a pilot and employee in the nonprofit sector who works at an airport to afford lessons. In her application essay, she writes,
Congratulations, Kaitlyn! She will soon have her application essay up on the Girls With Wings website, and has also been allotted a space on the GWW message board to post updates on her training.
If chosen as a scholarship recipient and representative of Girls With Wings, I would like to share the joy of aviation and ability to push through your fears with other women and girls. I am not getting my pilots license to become a professional pilot or pursue a full-time career in the field. I fly because every time I get in my airplane I am pushing myself to become a better version of myself. Flying requires you to be a good listener, detail-oriented, and build a value system which is constantly requiring you to evaluate your skill and accept constructive criticism from others. It has built faith in myself and has allowed me to listen to that voice inside which says this is a blast and shows me what I am capable of. I want to be that encourager of other girls and women who think that aviation is something that could be fun to be a part of but never give it a second thought.
And finally, we would like to also note that others have contributed funds for our operational expenses such as travel and other costs of running a nonprofit organization with outreach activities. For example, this blog entry is being typed on a laptop that Girls With Wings was able to purchase (a need long overdue, I might add) because of a donation of a Lightspeed Zulu headset to the Racing Aces, a team who raised funds for Girls With Wings during the Air Race Classic. We do appreciate all of the support we receive from the aviation community!
Many thanks to all and blue skies!