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2022 Scholarship Recipients

Kreg Anderson – Flight Safety International – ATP/CTP Course

Kreg Anderson is the Airport Manager for the Alexandria Municipal Airport, as well as a local charter pilot, flight instructor, and aviation enthusiast. A lifelong Alexandria resident, Kreg graduated from Jefferson High School in Alexandria in 2013. During high school he received his Private Pilot License at the age of 17. After graduation, Kreg went to the University of North Dakota to pursue a degree in Aviation Management. Kreg graduated from UND in December of 2016 with a Bachelor of Business Administration and his Commercial Single Engine & Multi Engine, and Certified Flight Instructor ratings.

Kreg returned to Alexandria and worked as a flight instructor before becoming a charter pilot and the airport manager. Kreg is involved in leadership in several organizations, including the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, Alexandria Area Young Professionals, Minnesota Aviation Trades Association, Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 702, and the Vikingland Flying Club. Outside of aviation Kreg enjoys the sports of basketball and stock car racing, as well as flying for fun and traveling.

Aura Austin – CAE – ATP/CTP Course

Aura Austin is the 2022 ATP Certificate Training Program Scholarship recipient. As an MBAA member, she is dedicated to being a part of and growing the Minnesota Business Aviation community. Austin is a full-time Part 91 Hawker pilot for Jet Linx Aviation in Eden Prairie and owns and operates Blue Lakes Aviation in Mankato, Minnesota, where she is a jet contract pilot and teaches spin and upset recovery in her Decathlon.

Austin feels her talents are best served in business aviation. She is an advocate for mentoring others within the aviation industry and giving back to her communities. Austin was the 2019 MBAA type rating scholarship recipient and she credits this honor as the catalyst in her career that bridged the gap between her flying propeller and jet aircraft. She now holds four jet type ratings. Austin lives on a Peruvian Horse ranch with her husband and two daughters in Mankato.

Samantha Naples – MBAA Flight Training Scholarship

My name is Samantha Naples and I am from Mankato, Minnesota. My passion for aviation began when I was 12 years old. On September 16, 2015, I flew on the first ever Delta women inspiring our next generation (WING) flight to the Jet Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. The moment I came home I told my parents I want to become a pilot. My parents were startled by those words, but they have supported me ever since. Seven years later I am attending Minnesota State University and majoring in Aviation Professional Flight.

I have just started my sophomore year and I am currently working on my commercial multi-engine certificate. I am so grateful for the aviation community. Being a first generation pilot was very overwhelming at times, but the passion and encouragement I received from the aviation community is how I am where I am today. My future plans are to work for a regional airline and eventually work my way into the business aviation world!

Connor Huot – Gordon Hoff, Excellence in Maintenance Scholarship

Born in Thief River Falls MN to Curt and Andrea Huot. I have two sisters that are currently attending college to one be a pilot and two a nurse.

Attended St. Bernard’s elementary school, Franklin middle school and then Lincoln High School. Played soccer from 1st grade to 9th and was a part of the swim team from 7th to 12th. After high school I attended the University of North Dakota for computer science. After attending for two and a half years, I decided I didn’t want to work in an office or cubical all day and decided to change majors. Upon realizing, I lacked the funds to change majors, I enlisted into the United States Marine Corps.

In the Marines I attended boot camp in California at the San Diego Recruit Depot. From there I went to 29 Palms CA for job training. After I was stationed in Camp Pendleton with 11th Marines where I met my wife. During this time, I got married and had my first child Nathanial. I was then moved to 5th Marines where I had my second child and remained until I was discharged honorably from service. My wife and I then moved back to Thief River Falls where we both attend school at Northland Community and Technical College. I will be graduating in December from then Aviation Maintenance Program and then moving to the twin cities for work.

Colin Sharp - Maintenance Scholarship/Corporate Mechanics Association

I have been surrounded by aviation my entire life, and my admiration for airplanes definitely stems from those early years. At a very young age I would go to work with my father, an A&P mechanic, and began learning about how aircraft worked. The time I spent with my father at the hanger helped me realize that this was a career I wanted to pursue. I am now attending Lake Area Technical College in South Dakota for my A&P and am loving every minute of it. This summer, I was fortunate enough to attend a Flight Safety Initial for the Falcon 900 EX EASy and I am looking forward to using this knowledge in my career in business aviation. I love the Minnesota/Wisconsin area and hope to work and reside here upon completing my education.

2021 Scholarship Recipients

Daniel Rohlfing – Flight Safety ATP Training Course (2021)

I began taking an interest in aviation at a young age; I grew up surrounded by the amazing aviation community, which I came to love.  Growing up with two parents both as pilots has given me the opportunity to attend many aviation activities, meet fun people including Buzz Aldrin, volunteer and give back to the world of aviation, and become part of this amazing community. In highschool I earned my Eagle Scout Rank through the Boy Scouts of America. I also took multiple college classes which is allowing me to graduate college in two and a half years. Since 2014, I worked at the Mankato airport for North Star Aviation, debugging airplanes, until 2018 when I was hired as a Line Service Technician.  I continued to work for Northstar all throughout my flight training, and recently was hired as a Flight Instructor. I plan on continuing to further my career in aviation and to keep flying as much as I can.  In addition, I will continue to help the aviation students following in my footsteps.

Nick Zingraf - $5,000 Maintenance Training Scholarship (2021)

After spending several years in Los Angeles working in the music and television industry as a musician and music supervisor, Nick has recently moved back to the midwest to pursue a career in the field of aviation.  Through the summer Nick spent his time at the Fargo Jet Center training an Aviation Maintenance Technician Apprentice and is now heading back to Northland Community and Technical College to wrap up his last two semesters of training and obtain his certificates for Airframe, Powerplant, and Aircraft Electronics Technician.

Samuel Belden - $5,000 Flight Training Scholarship (2021)

Ever since I was little I loved airplanes, and I knew I always wanted to do something in aviation. After attending the Minnesota Aviation Career Education Camp (MN Ace Camp) in 2014, my fate was sealed. Over the past four years I’ve perused my various pilot certificates, with the plan of now completing my Certified Flight Instructor and Certified Flight Instructor Instrument thanks to the generosity of the Minnesota Business Aviation Association. I currently work in business aviation, at Signature Flight Support at St. Paul Downtown airport. When I’m not working or flying, I’m working on my Bachelor’s of Science in Aeronautics through Embry-Riddle World Wide’s online degree program. To help give back and to help promote our amazing industry I returned in 2017 to MN Ace Camp as a counselor, planning member and outreach event coordinator. Additionally, I’m a board member and event coordinator for the local Women in Aviation International chapter, Starts of The North where I help create amazing networking and learning opportunities for our chapter members and also help coordinate the largest Girls in Aviation Day event at Flying Cloud Airport every year. I cannot thank MBAA enough for their generosity and I look forward to paying it forward in the years to come.

Cullen Gahagan - $5,000 Flight Training Scholarship (2021)

My name is Cullen Gahagan, I am a recent graduate of Minnesota State University in Mankato, MN. Throughout my four years at Minnesota State I spent my time studying aviation and flight training towards a degree in professional flight. While I wasn’t busy studying I was playing wide receiver on the football team for the Mavericks. I grew up in Madison, WI which is just an hour from EAA Airventure. I first took part in that incredible week when I was about 9 years old and my love for aviation grew ever since. When I was in high school I worked at the FBO in Madison. I have to say this is what formed my aspirations to become a part of business aviation. Seeing the corporate aircraft and meeting all the different pilots was the coolest thing when I was just getting started on my own flight training. This scholarship will provide an incredible opportunity for me to get type rated in an entry level business jet and hopefully kickstart the career I have been dreaming about since I was young.

2020 Scholarship Recipients

Peter Hessedal – CAE Citation II SIC Initial Type Rating + $5,000 Stipend (2020)

A lover of aviation and airplanes since the age of 6 and has spent the last 40 years pursuing that love. Though sometimes sidelined by other pursuits and rigors of being an adult with adult responsibilities, he still looks up every time he hears an airplane flying overhead. While in his aviation pursuits he has also completed a couple degrees, including a Master of Science in Project Management and recently left the IT Project Management world to “get serious” about using his commercial pilots license, accumulating over 1200 flight hours as a low level pipeline patrol pilot with which he starts (almost) every day with “I get to go flying today!” Since he can no longer bring work home with him, he enjoys spending much more time as the father of two precocious young boys who both like to go flying with him when they can. When asked about his future plans his response is “keep building up my different experiences and I hope at some point I can utilize my aviation and management experience together and also get pass along the knowledge gained with enthusiasm to the next generation on dreamers.”

Pierce Brackett – Flight Safety International Citation Encore SIC Initial Type Rating + $5,000 Stipend  (2020)

My name is Pierce Brackett from Prior Lake, Minnesota. I am 22 years old and just graduated from the University of North Dakota in Commercial Aviation and Unmanned Aircraft Systems. I am currently a full time CFI with UND and am excited to explore the business aviation community. In my free time I enjoy hunting and fishing as well as being let down by our Minnesota sports teams. SKOL!

Chelsea Montgomery - $2,000 Flight Training Scholarship  (2020)

"My name is Chelsea Montgomery and I am so honored to be a recipient of an MBAA Flight Training Scholarship. I am a 2019 graduate of the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities, Carlson School of Management with a major in business management and political science. This scholarship will give me the opportunity to further my education at ATP Flight School. I am a proud member of EAA, NBAA, NGPA, the Ninety-Nines, AOPA and WAI. I volunteer with some of these organizations regularly including at the EAA State Fair booth and Girls in Aviation Day. I am currently working on my CFI and am excited to teach people of all backgrounds how to fly! Thank you to MBAA and the donors for helping me reach my aviation goals."

Shea Kieran - $2,000 Flight Training Scholarship  (2020)

My name is Shea Kieren, I am 22 years old and was born and raised in Minnesota. I recently graduated from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities this past December with a B.S. degree in English as a Second Language Education and Elementary Education. I have been training with Inflight Pilot Training out of Flying Cloud Airport for the past couple of years. I recently obtained my instrument rating with them and will be using my scholarship money to help me achieve my goals of becoming a commercial pilot! Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to work with Women in Aviation Stars of the North, and Youth Initiative Aviation Academy to connect with those in my community who share a similar passion to mine, as well as provide aviation experiences to students in the Minneapolis - St. Paul school district. Outside of aviation, I have worked with Open Door Learning Center in Minneapolis to teach English to adult language learners and help them overcome language barriers! I am looking forward to working with the Minnesota Aviation Association and meeting other scholarship recipients!

Zahara Osman - $2,000 Flight Training Scholarship  (2020)

My name is Zahara Osman and I am a Junior at Minnesota State University, Mankato majoring in Aviation Professional Flight. I have dreamt of becoming a pilot since I was a young child. My passion for aviation started with a helicopter ride with my uncle when I was 9. I felt so free, yet powerful and it brought me immense happiness. I am currently a member of several aviation organizations including AOPA, Women in Aviation, NGPA, and EAA. Being an active member of these organizations has provided me with a sense of belonging and continues to fuel my determination. I am incredibly lucky to have the love and support from my family and friends. I would love to continue working towards my goals and provide support for girls in the future in their dreams of becoming a pilot.

Justin Wollenburg - $2,000 Flight Training Scholarship  (2020)

I graduated from St Cloud State University with B.S. degrees in Meteorology and Business and have been working as a computer programmer ever since. I took my first flight 2 years ago and caught the aviation bug. I earned my Private pilot certificate in 4 months and completed my instrument rating last summer. I am currently working on wrapping up my commercial certificate with plans to earn my multi rating and CFI certificates. I am an active member of my local Women in Aviation chapter volunteering my time for our annual Girls in Aviation Day each fall. Outside of aviation, I enjoy participating in Feed-My-Starving-Children events and have organized annual adopt-a-family events and have raised over $23,000 since 2007 for families in the twin cities.

Michael Weeks - $2,000 Flight Training Scholarship  (2020)

I am a husband and father of three kids. My journey to becoming a pilot has been long but has taught me invaluable lessons along the way. I served in the Marine Corps for five years after high school, working in avionics. Since then, I attended school at Oak Hills Christian College pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Intercultural Studies. I currently work as an avionics technician at Bemidji Aviation, and am working on my instrument and commercial ratings. I never lost the love of aviation I had as a child and am finally working toward realizing my dream of being a professional pilot.

2019 Scholarship Recipients

Aura Austin – CAE Citation II SIC Type Rating + Stipend  (2019)

Aura Austin has been awarded the Citation II second-in-command type rating generously donated by CAE. Aura is as nontraditional recipient as she is married and a mother of 2 daughters, graduated from Mankato State University – Mankato with an B.S. in Spanish and Mass Communications. Aura is a member of several aviation organizations including the MBAA, AOPA, Ninety Nines, Women in Aviation, and the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators. Aura is an active flight instructor at North Star Aviation in Mankato. Aura’s passion for aviation has been with her for 20 years and now she is fully immersed in aviation. As an international ferry pilot, Aura has flown in five countries and gained invaluable aeronautical decision-making skills. Aura’s maturity, attention to customer service and desire to be a business aviation pilot make her and ideal candidate for the MBAA highest scholarship. Aura is a recipient the MBAA looks forward to seeing more of in the future.

Willy Mekeel – FlightSafety International ATP Certification Training Program + Stipend  (2019)

Willy Mekeel has been awarded the ATPCTP Generously donated by FlightSafety International. It includes both ground training and flight training segments. Willy is a nontraditional as he has received his BA and MS degrees from Minnesota State University – Mankato and is pursing a PhD from the U of M. Willy is married and the father of 3 children. Willy’s road to aviation has been winding and over the past couple of years he has completed his multi-engine rating, instrument rating and commercial license, all while enrolled in a PhD course, teaching at Riverland Community College, working at TacAero and raising a family. Willy has participated in Young Eagle Flights and is a mentor in the Big Brothers of America program. Willy’s drive, goal orientation, and responsibility will be an asset to the MBAA and business aviation.

Joshua Wolbeck - $5,000 Maintenance Training Scholarship  (2019)

Joshua Wolbeck is the recipient of a $5,000 maintenance training scholarship. Joshua will be graduating from Northland Community and Technical College in August 2019 and plans to continue his studies for a BA in Aviation Management. While in high school and in college, Joshua has been a leader. He was captain of his football and track team, a National Honor Society member and is a member of the college Professional Aviation Maintenance Association and of the student senate. During the summer break and weekends, Joshua works for the Moorhead Aviation Services as an avionics technician. Joshua is the type of person the MBAA is proud to support and much needed in business aviation.

Jasper Omwoyo - $2,000 Flight Training Scholarship  (2019)

Jasper Omwoyo is the recipient of a $2,000 flight training scholarship. Jasper is a student at Minnesota State University – Mankato and plans to graduate summer 2019. Jasper participates in the YMCA Brother/Sister Mentoring Program and is a member of Alpha Eta Rho and in May 2019, attended the MAC Part 139 Boot Camp. In 2014, Jasper attended the Minnesota Aviation Career Education camp on a scholarship. He stated "No one in my family or immediate circle had ever been a pilot, the camp proved to me that I could become the first pilot in my family." Jasper’s passion and wide spectrum of capabilities are needed in the MBAA and in business aviation. Peter Hessedal - $2,000 Flight Training Scholarship  (2019)

Peter Hessedal is the recipient of a $2,000 flight training scholarship. Peter is another nontraditional recipient. Peter graduated from the University of Phoenix with a B.S. degree in Business Management. For nearly 20 years Peter has never given up on becoming a professional pilot. Peter’s desire, determination and creativity in weathering the economic challenges of life have served him will. Those traits will also well serve the MBAA and business aviation.

Alex Borgen - $2,000 Flight Training Scholarship  (2019)

Alex Borgen is the recipient of a $2,000 flight training scholarship. Alex is a student at Lake Superior College - Duluth and plans to graduate summer 2019 with an AAS– Professional Pilot degree. Alex has worked as a dispatcher for the Lake Superior College flight program and as a Manager for Beaver Air Tours in Duluth. As a Manager, Alex worked with the customers, developed flight schedules, assisted with aircraft upkeep and experienced the hard work and dedication it takes to keep the doors open at a small business. Alex has the talents and personality the MBAA is proud to support and is needed in business aviation.

Bradley Ramin - $2,000 Flight Training Scholarship  (2019)

Bradley Ramin is the recipient of a $2,000 flight training scholarship. Bradley graduated from U of M – Morris in May 2018, with a B.A. degree in Biology. Bradley is now enrolled at Minnesota State University – Mankato in the Aviation-Professional Flight Program and plans to graduate in May 2020. Bradley has studied abroad in Thailand and this year taught English online to 5 to 12 year-old children in China. At MSU-M, Bradley is a member of the Aviation Club, the Flight Team, and the WIA Northern Lights Chapter. At the U of M-M, Bradley was involved in several organizations including the Morris Campus Student Association. Bradley’s drive to make this change and his dedication are the traits the MBAA and business aviation are proud to support. Jessica Anderson - $2,000 Flight Training Scholarship  (2019)

Jessica Anderson is the recipient of a $2,000 flight training scholarship. Jessica graduated from the U of M with a B. S. degree in Biology. Jessica is currently finishing her 2nd year at Academy College, Bloomington, MN, in the Commercial Pilot Associates Degree program. Jessica has participated in the Girls in Aviation Day and other community activities including Feed my Starving Children. This summer Jessica plans to complete her flight instructor and began instructing this fall. When she has sufficient flight time, Jessica plans to fly with a regional airline to build her jet time and then seek a position as a pilot in the world of business aviation. Jessica represents what the MBAA and business aviation are proud to support.

Keyahna Kurilla - $1,700 Flight Training Scholarship

Keyahna is the recipient of a $1,700 flight training scholarship. Keyahna is truly the most nontraditional award recipient offered by the MBAA. Keyahna attended the MN Aviation Career Education camp, has soloed and is working to complete her private pilot training. This fall Keyahna will be a junior at Brainerd High School. Keyahna is also enrolled at the Central Lakes College PSEO program. She is a member of the Minnesota Seaplane Pilots Association, the WAI Northern Lights Chapter, President of the FFA-Brainerd Chapter and Editor-in-Chief of the Brainerd High School Yearbook. Also, during the past 3 years, Keyahna has participated in the Women Venture Event at Oshkosh. This summary only touches the activities Keyahna is involved in and her drive to become a professional pilot. She represents the best of today’s young people. The MBAA is proud to support Keyahna and she needs to be recruited by business aviation.

Minnesota Business Aviation Association (MBAA)

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