The five amazing young women featured below have bright futures thanks to the many opportunities available to them through SUN ‘n FUN’s Aerospace Center for Excellence programs and scholarships. All have challenged themselves and are working incredibly hard to achieve their dreams.

Catie Rosenoff remembers thinking about careers in aviation when she was only seven years old. She thought a job as an airline pilot would be fun after traveling by plane on vacation. Her father, an A&P mechanic and aviation enthusiast, encouraged her to explore this interest. She has solo’d an airplane and plans to earn her pilot’s license this year, thanks to a SUN ‘n FUN scholarship. She enjoys volunteering at Aerospace Discovery at the Florida Air Museum, which has led to a part-time paid internship in the SUN ‘n FUN accounting office. Last year Catie served as a SUN ‘n FUN STRATOS Squadron Representative during the Fly-In. Catie is a high school senior at a local high school, still deciding on where she will attend college. She is considering majoring in aerospace engineering with a minor in business.

Jasmin Kheder is a classmate of Catie’s. She also explored an interest in aviation by volunteering at Aerospace Discovery at the Florida Air Museum. Her experiences with the many different cultures she encountered from traveling and living abroad with her family peaked an interest in international affairs, particularly involving airports and traveling. The dual enrollment classes she has taken in high school through Polk State College have further encouraged her curiosity to learn more about government and international affairs. She plans on attending University of Central Florida, double majoring in political science and international affairs with a minor in business. She says volunteering for SUN ‘n FUN helped her see a future in governmental regulatory issues related to aviation. Her advice for other female students is “Go for it!”

Lexi Wines always knew she was military-bound, inspired by female relatives in law enforcement. After graduating from Central Florida Aerospace Academy she joined the United States Airforce. She was able to start as an Airman First Class due to four years of JROTC, and works as a crew chief on F-15s. As a student, she volunteered at Aerospace Discovery at the Florida Air Museum through the Lakeland AeroClub, which led to a part-time paid position at the front desk of the museum. She credits several SUN ‘n FUN staff members for serving as her mentors, which inspired her to select the Air Force as a career. She is currently stationed in Japan.

Two years ago Karissa Strickland had a degree in psychology and was teaching special education students when she read an article in the local paper that changed her life. The headline “Polk State College to Offer the First Bachelor’s Degree in Aerospace” caught her eye. She contacted the program director quoted in the article and enrolled within days. She is almost done with classes and is also finishing a certified flight instructor certificate. She works part time for Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in their operations department and also serves as the Director of SUN ‘n FUN’s new Aerospace Enterprise Center where she uses her skill set to help others achieve and develop their dreams in the field of aerospace. This bright young woman is so excited with the direction her life has taken and open to whatever the future brings. She credits SUN ‘n FUN for their tremendous support to the students in the Polk State program, from funding aerospace-focused projects, scholarship opportunities, internship possibilities, and even coordinating field trips.

Initially, Victoria Simmons was not interested in aviation but encouraged by her father to enroll at CFAA due to his interest in flying. “After restoring vintage aircraft and learning to fly, I fell in love with all aviation has to offer,” she said. Thanks to three scholarships from SUN ‘n FUN, Victoria was able to get her private pilot’s license, is working toward an A&P license at Traviss Career Center and is also enrolled at Southeastern University, where she is majoring in international business through an online program. She works part time as manager of Aerospace Discovery at the Florida Air Museum. “Ultimately, I want to fly and work on planes in Alaska,” she said. “Between then and now, I may end up working as a mechanic at an airline and paying for the rest of my pilot ratings during that time.”

If you would like to make a difference in the life of an aspiring aviation student, consider a gift to SUN ‘n FUN, a 501(c)3 organization.