Jen Alicz has wanted to fly ever since she and her high school’s flying club came to Lewis University for an introductory flight in a Cessna 172. Jen has enjoyed Lewis’ small size and feels that this close-knit community has allowed her to succeed. The great mentors that Jen has found at Lewis have provided her with invaluable knowledge and insight into the industry.
While attending graduate school, Jen hopes to work at Lewis as a flight instructor. Once she builds enough flight hours, she wants to fly for a regional airline and eventually fly for a major airline. “I would also like to start up my own business one day,” Jen shared.
Jen believes that Lewis has prepared her well for her future career. “Through Women in Aviation and the Lewis Flight Team, I have met many professionals throughout the industry.” Because of her involvement with Women in Aviation, Jen received an internship with an airline.
Lisa Ehn discovered her passion for aviation when she was in fifth grade after attending Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama with her Girl Scout troop. She enjoyed it so much that she went back for three more summers attending the Space Academy and Aviation Challenge camps as well. Due to Lisa’s extreme interest in space, she looked for opportunities available in the aviation industry. Her father helped her get an introductory flight at their local airport and she has been “hooked ever since.”
Wanting a smaller sized university relatively close to home, Lisa chose Lewis University primarily because there is an airport right on campus. She was very impressed with the family-like feeling at Lewis. “My professors and flight instructors here at Lewis have been amazing. My flight instructor is here seven days a week, always willing to help whenever and wherever. She is constantly encouraging me and is very dedicated to the progress of students,” Lisa shared.
It was at the February 2009 annual Women in Aviation International Conference in Atlanta, Georgia where Lewis students were able to network with women who are active in the aviation industry. “We have also been included in the new Chicago Women in Aviation chapter that was started this year, with even more opportunities for support and networking with women in the Chicagoland area,” Lisa explained.
Natalie Kasak realized that aviation is what would make her truly happy after contemplating majors during her first two years of college. She chose Lewis University primarily because of its small size and for the close proximity to her home. For Natalie, the people who run the aviation program are most helpful. “I truly believe that they are looking out for the students’ best interests and they have always been willing to listen.”
One of her favorite memories from Lewis is that of her first solo flight. According to Natalie, the most rewarding part about flying at Lewis is constantly challenging herself and being able to keep up with it.
Natalie believes it is important for women to have a group, such as Women in Aviation, where they can go to for assistance and be provided with opportunities for scholarships, career workshops and other educational resources.
Rachel Lynch had always dreamed of a career in aviation, but never thought it could become a reality. It was during her junior year in high school, after talking with her father one afternoon, that she realized it was indeed possible to pursue a degree in aviation. “It was in the same dream job category as an astronaut or rock star until I took the steps to check it out,” shared Rachel, who has not looked back since she made her decision. Since most aviation schools are in more rural areas, Lewis University’s proximity to Chicago was very attractive to Rachel, who enjoys networking.
The size of Lewis’ aviation program has been most helpful to Rachel, as it has given her the chance to know her professors, flight instructors and many others involved in the Aviation & Transportation Department. Rachel stated, “I think it is great that the Chief Pilot here knows me by name and says hello to me in the hallways!” When asked about her career goals, Rachel explained that she would really like to be a corporate pilot but “just wants to fly.”
Rachel believes that the lessons she has learned and support she has received from some of the really dedicated professors will be the key to her future success. Rachel chose this field not for the money, but because she believes it will make her very happy. “It’s exciting to think about the future and the places I’ll go and the things I’ll see,” expressed Rachel.