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NCAI Scholarship Recipients Launch into Their Futures at the Space Capital

Destiny Johnston and Lily Spires, Recipients of the NCAI Women In Avaition Conference International Scholarship, took every opportunity to make an impression in the aerospace industry while attending the Women In Aviation International conference in Orlando, FL. Lily Spires, a High School student at the AeroSTEM Academy, had only been on a plane once in her life, and had never traveled outside of California. Destiny Johnston, a former recipient, attended the event for her third time. Leading them at this event was Nicole Ward, Member of the WAI Northern California Chapter, and volunteer for NCAI. The event gave the opportunity for all of them to learn more about the aerospace industry and meet and converse with related professionals, including Dr. Sian Proctor, the first black female to pilot a commercial space craft, known for piloting the all civilian crew of Inspiration 4. Being boots on the ground at the WAI convention gave these young women the opportunity to pitch themselves to key figures in the industry and make connections that will propel them into their futures. They utilized the last day of the trip to see Kennedy Space Center, which came as a surprise and helped them to see the impact their future can make on this world and the next.

The WAI convention took place at the beautiful Orlando World Center Marriott. These young women were able to hear the encouraging stories of triumph from women including Dr. Patty Chang Chien, NOAA Rear Admiral Nancy Hann, and Nicole Battjes. Nicole Battjes is the owner of Rainbow Helicopters in Hawaii, and has been named the NBAA Top 40 under 40, class of 2023.

Kennedy Space Center was a blast. These young women, who are not old enough to remember the Space Shuttle Era were never-the-less impressed with the monumental aspects of the project and the missions, on a scale not seen at other shuttle exhibits. Going from that to exploring the Gateway Complex and the prospects of the Falcon, Gateway, New Sheppard, and Boeing Starliner projects, they had the opportunity to see the accelerated nature of the aerospace industry, and their potential place in its future.

"We also saw five alligators within one minute of leaving Kennedy Space Center. Make no mistake, Merrit Island is a nature reserve giving our crew the sense that we saw more than everything we came to see at the Women in Aviation Conference in Orlando, and the Kennedy Space Center."- Nicole Ward

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