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Sun, Aug 01, 2010

'Women Soar, You Soar' Program Is For Women Interested In Aviation

EAA AirVenture Program Uses Power Of Flying To Grow Leadership In Young Women

By Maxine Scheer

Thirty-seven inspirational women aviators devoted three full days this week at AirVenture, mentoring ninety-four young women (grades 9 - 12) about aviation careers as part of EAA's sixth annual Women Soar You Soar.

Mentors included Lt. Col. Jill "Raggz" Long, a U.S. Air Force pilot and an aerobatic performer; Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo, the first woman to fly for a major airline, and members of the WWII Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP), who received the Congressional Gold Medal in March 2010.

Women Soar Mentors

ANN talked with executive committee member Chrissy Tonsi about the program, now in its sixth year at AirVenture.  "I joined the program as a mentor in its second year, and have been supporting it ever since."  Chrissy described the process for finding participants and mentors.  "This is a tremendous effort of a very dedicated group of volunteers to put this program together.  The girls have to want to be here. We have also developed a very structured process for selecting mentors and pairing them with the girls." Chrissy described how the program is intended for Women Soar participants to learn to set goals, believe in themselves, and help them build the self-confidence and tools to overcome obstacles.

The young women came from all over the country and were referred to the program from EAA chapters, word of mouth and outreach to local leadership programs, such as the YMCA in Milwaukee.  It was mentioned at the Women in Aviation breakfast held this week at AirVenture, that one young woman came to Oshkosh with a group from Brazil.

Shusty Reynolds

The Women Soar program packed a variety of activities that included an outdoor physical challenge course, Women Soar Mentor Sessions, EAA Air Show Viewing, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and mentor career workshops, hands on workshops in topics such as navigation, rocketry and aircraft structures, and flight simulator time, just to mention a few. One of the most coveted programs was time spent with members of the WASPs, who were referred to as "Rock Stars".  "Jackie Cochran was my boss", said Florence "Shutsy" Reynolds at the award ceremony.  "She told us to cast a long shadow; women can do anything they want to."  Other members from the WASPs sat in the front row as participants received their awards at a ceremony held at the EAA Air Venture Museum.

Rod Hightower

EAA's new president Rod Hightower also welcomed the Women Soar participants and mentors before scholarships were presented.   "I am a huge support of this program," said Hightower, "I have four daughters and tell them to always do their best and most importantly, have fun."  Hightower expressed his hope that his daughters also participate in the program. "The key is setting goals and finding your passion," said EAA's Elissa Lines, EAA VP Donor & Business Relations, as she greeted the enthusiastic room of Women Soar participants and mentors at the awards ceremony.  "Women are powerful and can do a lot for other women."

Scholarships included:

  • Heather McRoberts Memorial Scholarship, a $500 to pursue profession or avocation in aviation to  Kyle Lynn Sutschek
  • Cdr. John Paradiso Scholarship for Women in Aviation/Aerospace, a $750 to pursue career in aviation or aerospace to Beverly Jackson
  • WASP Scholarship, a $500 scholarship to EAA's Air Academy to Carmen Conrad
  • Women Soar Scholarship for Innovation, a $1,000 College of their choice to Sarah E Benish
  • The Ragged Edge Scholarship, an eight-day trip to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center (aka Space Camp) in Huntsville, Alabama to Alyssa Celone.

Three new awards presented this year included:

  • The Jacqueline (Jackie) Cochran Memorial Award, a $500 scholarship for flight training at their home airport to Chelsea Michaud
  • The Aeromuse Award, a $500 scholarship for flight training at their home airport or to EAA's Air Academy to Kristie Wimbush
  • The Amelia Earhart Award, a new award for showing unconditional kindness to a participant selected by their peers, a $500 scholarship for flight training at their home airport to Belinda Demario
www.airventure.org/attractions/women_soar.html, www.raggededge.us, www.wai.org, www.uwosh.edu, www.waspmuseum.org, www.youngeagles.org/programs/airacademy


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