Southwest Airlines is a proud supporter of the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP). Southwest recently awarded $5,000 scholarships for continued flight training to two OBAP members, Moriah Graham and Jorge Domenech. The following post is by Moriah, a sophomore at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She made history in 2015 by becoming the youngest African-American female to earn her pilot’s license.
This year has been eventful for me. Through the ups and the downs, it proved to be a year that brought change. However, a wise man once said, “life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” and today I know all of the risks I took were totally worth it.
My first Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) Convention was more than what I would describe as memorable; it truly changed my life. I won a scholarship sponsored by Southwest Airlines, and a legacy award in the name of a true industry legend, Bessie Coleman.
I have been a member of OBAP for two years, and my experience has been both rewarding and enlightening. Every community service event is dedicated to expanding the horizons of children who wish to work in the aviation field. I met children who found it hard to believe that someone who looked like me could accomplish the challenges and requirements to have a successful career in the aviation field. Even more disturbing was the fact that they found it hard to believe that the same possibility existed for them.
Growing up, I was always the only black girl, and sometimes even the only black student, in my class. So when I looked around and found no one who resembled me as I began to pursue a career in aviation, the view presented itself not as an impediment, but a part of the everyday life that I had already grown accustomed to. Nevertheless, there is still part of me that weeps for the other little girl who doesn't believe and dream of flying one day, simply because in her worldview she sees denial rather than possibility.
I am proud to be a member of OBAP, because it offers little girls like me a view of what is possible.
I am certainly not saying that I never have days of discouragement, or days when I need to mentally change my perspective or view. Through the scholarship award from Southwest, I have not only gained financial assistance toward my continued flight training, but also mentors, supporters, big brothers, big sisters, and friends.
OBAP has built a lasting legacy of blazing a trail for others who desire to work in the aviation industry to follow. It's wonderful to know that Southwest has made the commitment to ensure that they'll never have to travel the trail alone.
I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me, but I know who I will be working with. Because, honestly, I am nuts about Southwest!