This September, I found out some of the most exciting news of my life, so far. At the beginning of the month, I applied for The Wings Club Scholarship through the ERAU Financial Aid office. A few days after I applied, I received an email saying I was chosen as the recipient of the scholarship. When I read the email, I was grinning from ear to ear. The Wings Club Scholarship is a $30,000 scholarship, and I could not believe that I was the one who had been chosen to receive it!
In addition to the scholarship funds, The Wings Club pays for their winners to attend the Annual Awards Gala in New York City. For those of you who may not be familiar with The Wings Club, I encourage you to check out their website to find more information about the club. It is made up of a large group of aviation executives and professionals from all over the world. When I heard that I was going to be receiving my scholarship in front of 1,200 aviation executives, I was slightly intimidated! Although I was intimidated at first, it quickly turned into excitement. After ordering my dress, booking flights, and researching the event, I could not wait to get to New York!
Luckily, the Gala fell during ERAU’s Fall Break, which allowed me to extend my stay in New York a few extra days. I was able to bring a guest with me, and we had a lot of fun exploring New York City both before and after the Gala.
The Gala was on Friday night, and was at the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in downtown Manhattan. Another student from the Prescott campus also won a scholarship, so we both attended the Gala together. Before the event, we all walked over to the hotel for a pre-Gala silent auction. Once we got to the hotel, we ended up walking into the invite-only Boeing Pre-Party. Everyone was dressed to the nines, and was having a great time. It was incredible to be in the room with the executives of Boeing, all the major airlines, leasing companies, aviation insurance companies, suppliers, and maintenance companies. Needless to say, I was in awe.
After we realized we weren’t really supposed to be at the Pre-Party, we took a look at the silent auction. While we were mingling, I had the chance to meet several ERAU Alumni, who are now major players in the aviation finance industry. I was amazed at how relatable they were, their passion for ERAU, and their success within the industry.
Eventually, we were all escorted into the main ballroom, where we took our seats. I had the pleasure of sitting with other scholarship winners during the event. CNN Aviation Correspondent, Richard Quest, was the MC for the evening. He was hilarious, and welcomed the scholarship winners up on stage early during the event. I was pretty nervous to walk on stage to receive my scholarship, but it was an incredible feeling of accomplishment once I was on stage with the award in my hand.
After the scholarships were given out, the Beach Boys surprised everyone with a half an hour concert! It was awesome. It was also cool to see a room full of aviation leaders dancing and singing to the Beach Boys. Once the excitement from the Beach Boys was over, it was time for the main event of the night. Each year The Wings Club chooses someone to receive their Distinguished Achievement Award. This year, retired Boeing President and CEO, Jim McNerney, was the recipient. I loved watching the video about McNerney, as well as hearing about all of his accomplishments. It was an honor to be in the same room with him, and shake his hand after the event was over.
Once the event officially ended, we walked around the room and talked with more ERAU Alumni. I was able to talk with several CEOs, an NTSB Board Member, Executive Chairmen, and many more. I was so inspired by their success, but also by their great knowledge of the industry. I was proud to tell them that I attend Embry-Riddle, as it is an institution that is highly regarded in the industry. After we finished mingling around the ballroom, we attended the Airbus After Party. It was fun to see people who are fierce competitors in the aviation world, all having a good time together after the event.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to attend the Gala, and am honored to have been chosen as The Wings Club scholarship recipient this year. I am more inspired than ever before, and am excited to enter into a career in aviation.
I encourage you to apply for scholarships through Embry-Riddle, as well as from external donors. You never know what experiences you will be able to have, and how the scholarship will impact your life!
Until next time,