When Maya Thornley was growing up, "Rocky Mountain High" was more than a John Denver song. For her, it meant flying with her dad in the skies over her home state of Colorado. While being a WMU instructor was her first official job in aviation, her first out-of-the-Western-loop position -- no doubt assisted by her Alpha Eta Rho days -- was with PROAIR Aviation that was founded in 1996 and located in Paducah, Ky. The Colorado native is now affiliated with Aviation Advisor Inc. that has locations Kenosha, Wis., Naples, Fla., and the Chicago area. It specializes in charters, aircraft management, acquisitions, and consulting with enterprises seeking to add an aviation component to their operations.
On the way to his 2004 degree in aviation flight science and aviation management with a minor in business, Justin Mertel first served as a dispatcher at the college's airfield. Then, like the majority of his WMU student colleagues, he spent semesters as a flight instructor. Mertel says that job not only added to his air hours, but also taught him a great deal about effective time management, helping to prepare him for his "dream job" at United Airlines.
Abby Ragsdale (Raymond) is making her "success" march as well. Since August of 2019, she has been flying for the aviation department of Steelcase, a century-plus-old enterprise headquartered in Grand Rapids that, with 12,000 employees, has grown far beyond its origins as a maker of office furniture and equipment.
Anthony was not your typical fresh-faced student after the ink dried on his Navy discharge papers. While he knew avionics inside and out, he believed he needed to learn more about aircraft engines and the science of flying. Close to his Gull Lake home was the College of Aviation with its "reputable" program in aviation maintenance.
Tierney's degree in aviation science and administration came in 2014. While working toward a 2017 master's in public administration, she initially retained her College of Aviation recruiting adventures until she had an opportunity to fly solo in that sphere as the No. 1 headhunter for the WMU College of Arts and Sciences. All of which has prepped Tierney for the current post in her chosen profession -- a pilot recruiter for Republic Airways' LIFT Academy.
When it came to a career in aviation, Alexis Brown always seemed to know she was on the right "track." During their college careers, her parents competed in that sport and, listening to their stories about travels and meets while growing up, she wanted to follow in their spike marks as well. Good enough as an athlete at LakeVille Memorial High School in Genesee County, Brown earned a track-and-field scholarship to Western Michigan University. The aviation part of the equation was spawned a little earlier when Brown was a youngster in her hometown of Otisville, a small hamlet northeast of Flint.