This is Amy's essay from her application. As an awardee of this scholarship, she has agreed to send us updates on her flight training, which will be posted here when they are received.
The first time I can remember being in an airplane, I was 12. My family was camping and we went to a town festival where a pilot was giving rides in a Cessna 172. I don’t remember taking off or landing, but I remember how in awe I was when we were in the sky. I thought it was the most amazing experience. The pilot let me fly for a few minutes, and I absolutely loved it! As the years went on, I always considered being an airline pilot my dream job, but never thought that it would be a possibility for me.
Then last summer, my mother and a family friend bought me one 60- minute flight lesson as a graduation present. After that flight I knew that flying was what I wanted to spend my life doing. The lesson was at a small town airport called West Metro Aviation, in Buffalo, MN. We flew around town, and the instructor showed me the very basics of flying- how to taxi and how to control the speed and the direction of the aircraft. He told me that he could see it was something I loved, and that he considered me a natural. He told me to stay out of trouble and to work hard and stay motivated, advice that I have taken to heart this first year of college. I consider that high school graduation gift one of the greatest things I have ever been given.
Later last summer, I got a job as a nanny for the children of a Delta pilot. When she contacted me about the job, I had no idea she was a pilot. At the interview, she told me about her job at Delta and I told her that I had always dreamed of being a pilot. She hired me on the spot. Throughout the summer, she encouraged me to become a pilot. She explained that there would be no better time than now and borrowed me a book about Private Pilot training. She gave me her old headset and answered any questions that I had. I continue to visit her and her children when I am on break from school. Meeting a woman who had succeeded with an aviation career was very influential and inspirational to me. I am very happy to have met her and to be mentored by her. She is such an inspiration and role model to me. She continues to encourage me to this day.
I have not had the easiest start in life. My family has never had money to spare. I cannot remember a time in my life when money was not a concern for us. When I was growing up, my father battled with depression. He took his life in 2009. I was fifteen at the time. Even though my father lost his battle with mental illness, I remember him for his strength. He worked so hard to support us growing up, and I am proud to say he is my father. He gave me his morals and his stubborn determination, and taught me my values. He made sure I knew that I could do anything I put my mind too, and I never doubted for a minute that he believed in me. I was very close with him, and losing him was the hardest thing I have ever been through. My family has been through so much both emotionally and financially. We were left without the person who had provided for us and had been the glue that held our family together. My mother has done the best that she can to step up to provide and care for us, but life for single parents in this world is not easy. I am determined to make my father and mother proud and honor my father’s memory.
I am very proud of my family’s strength, despite our troubles. Going through the hardships I have been through has not broken me down, but instead it has built me up. I am determined to make something of myself and to get an education. I worked throughout high school to help pay for a car, and to save up for college and living expenses. I am very proud to be able to pay all of my living expenses at 19. My first semester in college I earned a 3.6 GPA. I was invited into Alpha Lambda Delta, an honor society. I was also chosen to be a Learning Community Coordinator at my university, a job that includes mentoring college students here at Mankato in Aviation and Law Enforcement. I am currently involved with Campus Crusade for Christ and with the Women in Aviation chapter at my university. Even though I have saved for college, without any support I will not be able to complete my flight training or education. This award would make it possible for me to start my flight training to become a licensed private pilot.
My motivation to become a pilot and have a career is not purely for myself. This is not all about me. My goal in life is to make a difference. I want to prove to my younger brother and sister that things are not impossible for my family. I want to help those struggling with mental illness and support people who have lost family and friends to suicide. I would love to use aviation to do mission work and help with disaster relief in other countries. I would love to help underprivileged children get an education and be able to pursue their dreams. I would especially like to encourage young girls with interest in aviation to pursue a career in it. I know that without the encouragement from the woman pilot I worked for, I would not be where I am today. I hope to encourage young girls in the same way that I was encouraged. I would love to be involved with Girls with Wings to help do that. Many people think that flight is not traditionally a career associated with women and have asked me why, as a girl, I would want to be a pilot. I believe that is ridiculous! Just think of all the amazing women who were involved with aviation from early on. Amelia Earhart, Harriet Quimby, Katherine and Marjorie Stinson, Bessie Coleman, the WASPS, and Jacqueline Cochran were all amazing pilots, and that’s just a small selection out of an enormous group. Women have been a part of aviation throughout history, and we should not be underestimated just because of our gender. Women are just as capable as men to be great pilots!
During my life, I hope to help others who have struggled and are struggling. I have chosen to believe that the hard things I have gone through and am currently going through are building me up to be able to better help and understand the situations of others. I have tried to make a difference by raising money by doing the Shiver Plunge in Elk River Minnesota and giving the money to organizations that help and raise awareness for those struggling with mental illness. I have volunteered at Feed My Starving Children. I have also volunteered at an event with Airspace Minnesota, a nonprofit organization created to honor Minnesota’s great aviation and aerospace legacy, and educate kids about aviation. However given the opportunity; I know that I could do more to help people who need hope and encouragement in life. I know that I could use aviation to make a difference in this world.
My experience at Minnesota State Mankato thus far has been amazing. The aviation professors at the school are very involved with the students. They have gone out of their way to help me. The people at North Star Flight Training in Mankato have been incredibly helpful. Even though I have not been able to start flight training because I do not have the financial resources to do so, they have let me sit in on ground school lessons and ride along on planes rides while giving flight training lessons. Even the aviation students here have made a huge impact on my life. The older students have always helped me when I have had questions outside of class. A student who had his own plane took it upon himself to teach me a bit about flying and took me on a ride to the airport in my hometown. He was the first signature in my logbook, something I will always be grateful for.
I want a career in aviation because I absolutely love it. I love airplanes; I love all the technical details, the mechanics of it, the charts, the checklists, and the adventure. Most of all, I love flying. The feeling I get when the airplane takes off is unlike anything I have ever experienced. I love the anticipation and excitement right as the airplane speeds up on the runway to takeoff. Flying is on my mind every day. I have realized that I love flying more than I could ever love any other profession. I could talk about airplanes and flying for hours.
I don’t care if I have to work twice as hard as many people to get my dream job. I will work four times as hard, or as hard as it takes to get this degree. I will find a way to make it. “Aviation itself”, as Eddy Rickenbacker said, “is proof that given, the will, we have the capacity to achieve the impossible.” I know that I have the will to achieve what seems now as though it is impossible in my life. I would like to give back and make a difference. I am so thankful for organizations like yours that support and encourage girls to follow their dreams. This organization has definitely encouraged me and will continue to do so!
Thank you for taking the time to read my story and consider me for this scholarship. I am very grateful.
The Girls With Wings 2014 Scholarship Program includes the Dreams Take Flight Scholarship, designed to introduce the world of aviation to someone who would benefit from experiencing the joy of flight. This scholarship is intended to fund introductory flight training to encourage achievement of a stated goal, whether in aviation or in another field of study. There is no prerequisite flight training required for this scholarship, just enthusiasm and the desire to learn. The Dreams Take Flight Scholarship is an award of $500.00, funded by the generous donations from supporters of Girls With Wings, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.