Friends promote STEM careers for young people
The Aviation Youth Empowerment Foundation created an inaugural Bessie Coleman Aerospace Legacy scholarship of $ 4,000 for science, technology, engineering and math students in urban settings, which also honors the first black woman to earn a private pilot’s certificate. The funds can be used for tuition, books, tools or other resources, said Cessna 150 founder, private pilot and owner Nathan Rix, based at Pearson Field in Vancouver, Washington.
The initial scholarship application was closed at the end of March, but the group is considering additional scholarships in the near future as word spreads in the aviation and aerospace industry. The maximum scholarship per student is $ 4,000 and the foundation’s goal is to fund 20 scholarships in California, Oregon, and Washington by 2023.
Rix said he hopes the funds will enable young people from diverse and under-represented backgrounds to pursue careers in STEM through their exposure to aviation.
Rix said he first observed an educational disparity among New York City youth when he was a teacher at Teach for America in the Bronx. He is committed to making changes to open the eyes of young people to new frontiers, so he recruited a diverse group of companions to help him establish the Aviation Youth Empowerment Foundation scholarship program.
“The four friends on the board all share a common interest in aviation. We are all volunteers, really, and we all want to do more to diversify the aviation industry as a whole, ”he said. “We are helping high school students and others who want to go to university get the financial resources they need and provide mentorship to people who are already in the field,” he added.
Rix, who now lives and works in Portland, Oregon, has recruited engineer, project manager and transportation expert Jennifer “Jen” Lopez Ibrahim; career aviator, pilot recruiter and community volunteer Luke Abare; and Southisone “Sou” Souvanny Garner, urban planner, land use planning expert and public administration specialist. Together, their experience spans dozens of potential pilot, aviation and airport management jobs that young people can pursue as careers, once they are made aware of the options. The transition from high school to college can be difficult, even for the smartest minority students, Rix said.
Rix said he and the other members of the foundation’s board lacked the financial means to pursue aviation when they were younger or “hadn’t seen a lot of people who looked like them” during their time. seeking professional careers in STEM. He recalled that the foundation aims to change the “exposure level” of young people to include STEM options that open the door to careers in aviation and aerospace.
“Two other points help us stand out,” added Rix. “We rely on listening to women and people of color who are already in STEM fields to better understand the biggest challenges they face; and we ask businesses to think more about inclusion. Some companies haven’t really thought about how to diversify their workforce, so we want to have these conversations – and then help them go above and beyond – by talking to students who have already taken the programs. We want to help businesses find these gems. “