This is Willow'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.
Ever since I was a little girl people have asked me “What do you want to be when you grow up?” With High School graduation quickly approaching that once innocent question, now holds merit. Fortunately, I have an answer. I believe that we all have a unique purpose in life and by discovering our passion we are able to fulfill our greatest potential. I have a passion to fly and a dream of becoming a pilot. I was raised in a family of aviation enthusiasts; my dad, grandfather and uncle are private pilots, my mother is a flight attendant, and I have another uncle who is an A&P mechanic. I have experienced the world of flight on many levels first hand; however, the reality of how much I wanted to fly became apparent when I logged my first hour as a pilot.
Words can not explain the feelings that I experienced when I flew an airplane for the first time. The overwhelming sensation of accomplishment and astonishment paralleled with the thrill of the experience fueled my passion. I understand the commitment and devotion necessary to become a pilot. I have a firm belief in my personal abilities as well as my level of commitment. I am driven to push myself to meet challenges and reach goals.
I have been accepted to the aeronautical program at Embry Riddle University in Prescott, AZ. I plan to major in Aeronautical Science and minor in Unmanned Aircraft. I plan to earn my commercial flight rating and pursue a career as a commercial pilot. Embry Riddle Aeronautical University is ranked number one in the world for aerospace and aviation college education. With small class sizes, professional instruction and hands on skills training, my professional career is “off and flying” and my future is full of potential.
I am currently 17 years old, a senior in high school, graduating in the spring of 2014. In addition to my high school education, I am currently enrolled and attending college aviation courses at Chandler Gilbert Community College, Gilbert, AZ as well as obtaining my private pilot certificate through the University of North Dakota Aerospace program at Williams Gateway Airport, Mesa, AZ. My high school junior year I successfully completed aviation courses through the East Valley Institute of Technology, Mesa, AZ. The professional instruction and hands on skills training that I have received has provided me with a strong basis of knowledge as well as an excellent opportunity to put my dream “in-flight”.
Although I have not “worked” at a conventional job, (for example at the mall or at a fast food restaurant) I have “worked” very hard for the past 12 years. I started playing softball at the age of 5. I have committed myself to improving my skills and growing from my weaknesses. I devote 6 hours a week to strictly practice time. I devote 18-20 hours a week on the field playing competitively at the “Gold” level on an elite travel team. The experiences I have gained from “working” as an athlete are priceless. I have learned how to be: self-disciplined and focused. I have developed the skills necessary to be a strong leader as well as a team player. I understand sacrifice and reward. I know how to push myself to meet challenges and commitments. My experience as a “working” athlete will play an important role through out my life and has provided a solid foundation of the person that I have grown to be today and will continue to be in the future.
In addition to being a devoted and committed individual, I am also filled with kindness and compassion for others. I volunteer on a regular basis at a 55+ community where I grocery shop, provide transportation and just “be there” for older people who need a helping hand or a friend by their side. I’m also very involved in volunteer projects such as “Hope Takes Flight” in which I help my mom along with several other people in the aviation industry raise money for United Way by participating in various fund raising projects through out the year. I am a member of Women in Corporate Aviation, Women in Aviation and the Ninety-Nines. All organizations which provide support to women who have a passion for aviation.
The cost of tuition and flight training is very expensive. I have committed myself to growing and developing in the area of academics and athletics. With regard to tuition expenses at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, I have been awarded a merit scholarship for my academic efforts along with an athletic scholarship for my ability to play softball, but there is still a large amount of tuition that needs to be paid in order to fulfill my dream of attending a university that is considered the world’s leader in aviation and aerospace education. In an effort to reduce future college expenses, I elected to pursue my private pilot license outside of Embry Riddle. The Rick Dahl Memorial Private Pilot Scholarship would be extremely helpful in completing this venture. I am an only child of two very hard working people. My father started his own business in 2001 in the construction industry. At this time, my mother was a flight attendant for United Airlines. The tragedy of September 11, 2001 ended my mothers career with United Airlines. My mother devoted her efforts to raising me and helping my father grow his business into a what was once very profitable. Unfortunately, about 6 years ago the economy of our nation went into a severe recession and the construction industry took a volatile downward spiral. My parents devoted endless hours and all of their financial resources to their business. The economy was very slow to recover and even though things were finally starting to improve, my parents made the difficult decision in June of 2013 to close the business that they had devoted their lives too. Fortunately, my mother was able to gain employment with US Airways as a flight attendant. As a new employee, her starting wages are low, and do not afford any extra income. My father was fortunate to gain employment as well in November of 2013. Again, as a new employee, his wages are contributed to covering our household expenses.
Sadly, women account for only 5% of the commercial pilots in our industry. Today as I read an article about a passenger on a WestJet flight that left a note for the female Captain of the flight stating, “The cockpit of an airliner is no place for a woman” my focus became clear. As a future pilot, I can make a difference. I hope to bring more attention to the field of aviation by educating others and leading by example. Acquiring a solid foundation of knowledge and developing a strong skill set is essential to my success and to bringing more women into a non-traditional career field. The opportunity to change the way our society views women in the cockpit is a challenge that I would be proud to be a part of. Working as a CFI and mentoring other young women who share my passion is a goal that I plan to achieve! Setting an industry standard rather than an industry exception is a challenge that I proudly am willing to accept.
Thank You for the opportunity to successfully fulfill my dream,
The Girls With Wings 2014 Scholarship Program includes the Private Pilot Scholarship, to help defray the cost of flight training lessons in pursuit of a
private pilot certificate. This scholarship targets those individuals
who have soloed but have not completed the Private Pilot Course. The
Private Pilot Scholarship is in the amount of $1000.00, funded by the generous donations from supporters of Girls With Wings, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.