Like for many Americans, Covid 19 did a pretty good job of "taketh away" for Kurt Kraczon, but it also did a bit of "giveth" for the WMU College of Aviation junior. Raised in Portland, an Ionia County community of about 4,000 folks northwest of Michigan's capital city of Lansing in the middle of the Lower Peninsula, Kraczon had most of his junior and senior years in high school impacted by the pandemic. But instead of sitting on his hands with a "woe is me" attitude, he decided to gain some insightful and practical experience prior to enrolling in the college as a major in aviation management and operations.
"What you know" enhances any resume and "Who you know" can also be a positive factor in a job search. Joseph Bos has tapped into both. A junior at the WMU College of Aviation majoring in aviation management and operations, Bos is currently interning at Denver International Airport. with the Airside Operations Group entity based there. The graduate of Calvin Christian High School in Grand Rapids is on track to receive his Bronco degree in the spring of 2025.
Enrolled students and alumni judge the WMU College of Aviation to be "like family" because of its welcoming and caring environment. For the Hoffman brothers, it actually is. Alec Hoffman is new on campus as a freshman majoring in aviation flight science. Brother Cole, as a senior, has wrapped up that major's degree requirements. Both plan to follow in the footsteps of their father, Bill Hoffman who is a Captain at Delta Air Lines.
If more athletes were like Makenzie Russell, the slur of "dumb jock" would disappear from the American lexicon. A freshman at the WMU College of Aviation, she is an avid hockey player and was awarded Western's prestigious Medallion Scholarship for her academic prowess. Not only was she the captain of her women’s club team from 7th grade until her high school sophomore year (when she advanced to a higher female division), she also joined the men’s hockey team at Homewood-Flossmoor High School south of Chicago during that same time.
This kind of aviation experience is different -- really different. You lift off of the ground, compliments of the laws of physics and the miracle of applied technology. You return to terra firma, compliments of human courage and another application of physics -- the science that comes into play when you jump out of that plane -- with a thing called a parachute strapped on your back -- and either artistically plummet or gently float toward earth.
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.