Former James C. Ray Scholarship program participant, Skyler Burnam now working at FAA HeadQuarters!

The Aerospace Center for Excellence is a campus focused on not only aerospace and aviation, but also building better citizens with life and leadership skills that extend past classrooms, and workplaces. It is a unique educational campus, offering unique and varied educational programs from designing, building, and maintaining aircraft, to STEMfusion workshops, and even woodworking and other technical skills.

This campus reaches a variety of age groups, backgrounds, and interest levels. Many young teens and adults are impacted through scholarships, educational programming, and most importantly mentoring. Purposeful in its programming, it can be especially life-changing for some. The James C. Ray Scholarship Fund is a grant evaluated on many factors, with a key required element being an essay about one’s career aspirations and reasoning for pursuing flight training. For Skyler Burman, being a part of the James Ray Scholarship program was transformative!

Skyler is now a recent graduate from the University of Florida with a B.A. in Economics, whose initial plan of completing the FAA commercial pilot certification was halted due to medical reasoning. Understandably upset at this thought, this adversity caused him to work towards a first-class medical Special Issuance for over a year now. After many obstacles, he should be reaching this achievement soon. Upon receiving his first-class medical special issuance, he will be able to begin flight training for his commercial license.

Last year, Skyler began temporarily working at Gulf Coast Avionics, and within 4 months received a job as a production planner at an aerospace engineering and modification company in Newport News, VA. Unfortunately, after 8 months of learning and beginning a career, he realized that this position did not bring forth the excitement and passion he had for aviation.

Through hard work and perseverance, an incredible opportunity opened up to interview for an FAA contractor. This position would put him to work as a program analyst on a new FAA program working to enhance and remodel the 24 million square miles of U.S. delegated oceanic airspace. After a series of interviews, he accepted the position! Now in Washington, DC working at FAA headquarters beneath the Air Traffic Organization (ATO), international office (AJV-I), he is loving every second of it.

An incredible opportunity opened up in March 2021 when I interviewed for an FAA contractor to work as a program analyst on a new FAA program working to enhance and remodel the 24 million square miles of U.S. delegated oceanic airspace. I earned and accepted the job offer that followed the series of interviews. I am now in Washington, DC working at FAA HQ beneath the Air Traffic Organization (ATO), international office (AJV-I). Skyler states, “I am a small part of a satisfying effort to more effectively move millions of passengers and goods per year while focusing on improving both safety and efficiency. I could not thank you and the Sun ’n Fun community/organization enough for inspiring me to continue in this career field. The aviation community is truly mesmerizing!”

President and CEO of SUN ‘n FUN and ACE, John “Lites” Leenhouts states, “Never in the course of mankind has one person had such an incredible impact on the course of history!” With a mission to engage, educate and accelerate the next generation of aerospace professionals the Aerospace Center for Excellence, we also aim to provide better citizens with leadership skills that extend past our campus! We are so proud of you, Skyler!

To see more about the FAA program and its goals follow the link below:

https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ato/service_units/mission_support/ato_intl/foto35/ and to learn more about the Aerospace Center of Excellence scholarship programs view them at: https://aceedu.org/education/scholarships/ .

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