Riley Trygstad had never thought of herself as a pathfinding pioneer, but her aspirations now are to be one. "Considering that aviation for the most part is male-dominated," says the sophomore aviation-flight-science major at the WMU College of Aviation, "being a woman and being gay has been something I have factored into my experience. It's been hard so far, considering in most of my classes I'm one of only three females and possibly the only one in the LGBT community."
Guadalupe "Lupe" Guzman Ramos has learned a lot from his parents, not the least of which is a willingness to take a risk. Now a senior majoring in aviation flight science at the WMU College of Aviation, Guzman had almost no connection to his future career choice while growing up, other than a flight from nearby Fort Myers to Dallas, Texas -- and he was dragged into that 2009 experience almost kicking and screaming.
Growing up in Latvia, Janis Strupis easily made his way through water as a competitive swimmer. Now, as a major in aviation technical operations at the Western Michigan University College of Aviation, he's intent of acquiring the same ease of mobility through the air, either as a technician that keeps planes in the sky or as a person behind the controls.
Everybody is unique in his or her own way, but Ricardo Escalante-Villalta can boast of another factor that is distinctive. A senior majoring in aviation management and operations, he may be the only College of Aviation (COA) student who has roots in the Central America nation of El Salvador. However, he is not the first COA enrollee who can trace an affinity for all things aviation to a childhood home that was in the proximity of a major airport -- in his case two, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SeaTac) as well as Boeing Field.
Rachel Tuit wants to become something she has never personally witnessed or experienced in action on the job -- a female airline pilot. A double major in flight science and aviation management and operations in the Western Michigan University College of Aviation, she is bulking up her resume to make certain her vision becomes reality. The 2019 graduate of Grand Rapids Christian High School, located about 40 miles north of Western's Kalamazoo campus, is president of the college's Women in Aviation International (WAI) chapter, vice president of the Aviation Student Council, and one of the program's cadre of Aviation Ambassadors who shepherd potential students on tours as they check out what Western has to offer.
There are out-of-state students in the WMU College of Aviation, and there are some far-out-of-state enrollees. Like Joshua Yoweni, who, if he goes home, travels to Jayapura, Papua -- Indonesia's largest province on the northern coast of Western New Guinea. For the geographically challenged, that's on the other side of the planet from Western's Kalamazoo campus. Nobody has a story like Yoweni's regarding how he got to Southwest Michigan from southeast Asia. It involves a side trip to and a variety of experiences in -- not Japan, Hong Kong, or even Mexico. Try Germany! We'll get to that a little later.
Airlines that want their chief pilots to be able to "parlez-vous francais" on their flights to Paris or the Riviera should consider hiring Becca Lowe. In addition to majoring in aviation flight science at the Western Michigan University College of Aviation, she's a French minor who is fluent in the language and in all the wonderful, creative aspects of that nation's culture
Brooke Katich is the first in her immediate family to attend college, but she has a different kind of legacy that is just as important. A junior majoring in aviation management and operations at the Western Michigan University College of Aviation, she has some deep familial roots embedded in the industry. Katich, who calls the Edison Park community on the North Side of Chicago "home," is the first to nourish them via higher education.
For those mechanical illiterates who don't know the difference between a spark plug and a timing chain, Maria Sackrider would be their best perpetual passenger. While the WMU College of Aviation (COA) senior majoring in aviation technical operations probably knows her way under the hood of a land-bound car, the electronic and technical marvels that allow a plane to take off -- and more important to land -- are well-explored territories for her.
Growing up northwest of Boston near the New Hampshire border, for Patrick Lambour the worlds of airplanes and airports were always music to his ears. Today, as a senior majoring in aviation flight science at the Western Michigan University College of Aviation, they still are. But airports and airplanes have been joined by . . . music. Lambour graduated from Chelmsford High School in the spring of 2018. The community of Chelmsford is "a 35-minute drive from Boston," depending on the traffic. And there always seems to be traffic, enough that an air-traffic controller might be warranted.