Wings for Val Foundation Awards $20,000 in 2019 Scholarships

Wings for Val Foundation Awards $20,000 in 2019 Scholarships

Two scholarship recipients received their awards in person at the 2019 WAI Conference in Long Beach (from left to right: Anne Bania (recipient), Caroline Desroches (Val’s sister/W4V director), Meryl Shriver-Rice (recipient), Doreen Cappelaere (Val’s mom/W4V director)

We are proud to announce the winners of this year’s scholarships, two of which were awarded in person at the 2019 Women in Aviation International Conference in Long Beach, CA on March 14-16.

The 2019 and 6th Annual LT Valerie Cappelaere Delaney Memorial Scholarship Winner ($5,000) – Anne Bania of Issaquah, WA.

Anne is an aspiring pilot currently working as an IT Computer Specialist for University of Washington Medicine while completing an online Honors Computer Science degree with the University of Herfordshire. She spent a year working on the University of Washington’s first satellite as a NASA Space Grant undergraduate researcher and is actively involved in Civil Air Patrol working on their flight operations and teaching cybersecurity of cadets. A visit with her mentor to the Alaska Airlines training facility confirmed her desire to finish her flight training to become a commercial pilot for a major airline. In her application essay, Anne writes, “I aim to continue Civil Air Patrol throughout this process, especially to inspire future female aviators in an industry where they are few and far between. Sharing my story, I want to continue Val’s legacy of adapting and overcoming obstacles, especially within aviation.”

Finalist #1 ($2,500) –Erin Luca of Gainesville, FL.

Erin applied to this scholarship to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a pilot and eventually flying commercially as a captain. She attended Embry Riddle University to student Aerospace Engineering for a short time before deciding to settle down and start a family. Now as a business owner and mother with two young kids, Erin’s passion of flight has begun to re-emerge as she considers what she really wants out of life. In her essay, she writes, “I really desire to be my children’s hero; as the mom who is a pilot! I want to inspire, especially my daughter, to always believe she can do whatever she works hard for, and to model for her how to have self-independence. I want to model for my son what an independent, strong woman looks like, so that he can find a good wife to encourage and love… At the end of my time here on earth, I want to be proud of the legacy I leave behind.”

Finalist #2 ($2,500) – Shahd Hamid of Forty Fort, PA.

Shahd is an Iraqi refugee who first came to the Unites States in 2014 to receive her masters degree, but was never able to make it back home due to deteriorating circumstances. She has been enthralled with flying since she was a young girl but never had the support from her family or her culture to seriously pursue it. Determined to become a pilot, Shahd is now working several human resources jobs to save up the money for her flight lessons. According to Shahd, “Winning a scholarship means a lot. It means I defeat the obstacles and judgments. My plan is to earn my fixed wing private pilot and start flying for a cause. I will fly to support refugee camps, hurricane affected areas, and so many places a car can’t take me. I will be flying for women who have no voice, and if it takes a tomboy to change the world, then I will be one.”

The 2019 and 2nd Annual CPT Sara Knutson Cullen Memorial Scholarship Winner ($5,000) – Jessica Meiris of Colorado Springs, CO

After over a decade of professional guiding and instructional experience in rock climbing and other adventure sports, Jessica aspires to shift her career towards becoming a helicopter pilot for technical mountain search and rescue. In 2014, Jessica became the first woman in history to climb the great face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, the largest granita monolith in the world, completely alone and in 27 hours. Her skills have translated well to the world of aviation and she is excited to take on a new challenge of flying a helicopter. When comparing herself to CPT Sara Knutson Cullen, Jessica writes, “Sara was an ideal blend of feminine grace and authority, defying societal norms yet remaining humble and selfless. Like Sara, I strive to provide strong female leadership and mentoring in a male-dominated industry as a professional mountain guide. I understand that it will require partnership and assistance to achieve that goal in my new career as a helicopter pilot.”

The 2019 Drone Training Scholarship in partnership with DARTDrones and Images for Good.
Winner ($5,000.00) – Meryl Shriver-Rice of Coconut Grove, FL.

Meryl is an archaeologist at the University of Miami with interests in aerial photography, mapping and survey work for heritage research. Inspired by her grandfather, a Navy test pilot, Meryl began working towards her pilot’s license in college with a Air Force ROTC scholarship, but decided to table her pursuit of flying to instead pursue graduate school for archaeology. She now seeks to become a drone pilot for surveying research in collaboration with the Exploration Science program at the Rosentiel School of Atmospheric Science & Policy. According to Meryl, “I would use this scholarship to investigate new and known heritage sites for the city and the region, expanding our local knowledge of the history of our young city and larger women… I later plan to become a mentor to other women interested in employing drone technology in the sciences.”

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OUR 2019 SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS! It was another very competitive year of applications so we thank each and every single one of the incredible women who applied and all of our donors for making these life-changing scholarships possible. Our team had an amazing time at the WAI conference in Long Beach presenting the scholarship, meeting past and present scholarship recipients, and networking with so many incredible people at our booth in the expo hall. Can’t wait to head back to Orlando for the conference next year!

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