SIU Aviation Students Receive Scholarships from The Boeing Company

Photo above – SIU Aviation students celebrate receiving scholarships as part of a grant program funded by The Boeing Company. From left are Doug Carr, Faith Ortega, SIU Aviation students Sami Liller, Melissa Pfaff, Fawne Maguire and Grace Gray, Harry Barrett Jr. and Dristin Rose. (Photo by Russell Bailey)

Fifteen students in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s nationally recognized School of Aviation recently received scholarships from Boeing to enhance their education.

This is the second consecutive year Boeing has provided $50,000 to the School of Aviation for scholarships and to fund activities of aviation-related registered student organizations and outreach events, such as the fourth annual diversity luncheon on April 12 at the Glenn Poshard Transportation Education Center. Five students each in aviation technologies, aviation flight and aviation management received $2,000 scholarships and the remaining $20,000 is split between registered student organization (RSO) activities and diversity outreach programs.

A benefit for students

Matthew J. Romero, an associate professor of aviation management, said the funds received from Boeing is a “windfall for our students.” The scholarships are an obvious benefit, but there are also less-noticed tangible benefits for students who are able to participate in field trips.

“The School of Aviation is home to 11 registered student organizations, many of which serve students with backgrounds typically underrepresented in the aviation industry,” Romero said. “The Boeing grant aims to help women, students who are racial or ethnic minorities and students with financial needs experience the aviation industry while they are students here.”

Romero noted that in addition to RSOs being able to travel to annual national conferences, this year students planned, organized and visited four aviation agencies in the Chicago area. More than 30 students visited United Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and the DuPage County Airport Authority, where they met with alumni and learned more about the aviation industry.

“The experiences our students gain while in the field are invaluable to their experiences as Salukis, and Boeing directly contributes to their experiences,” Romero said.

Promoting diversity in aviation

This year’s diversity luncheon was a panel discussion from four aviation professionals, including three SIU Aviation alumni, about their career paths as they relate to diversity, equity and inclusion issues. The panelists included Doug Carr (2000), a senior vice president of safety for the National Business Aviation Association and vice chair of the board of directors for the National Gay Pilots Association (NGPA); Dristin Rose (2019), a first officer with regional airline Envoy Air and member of the NGPA board of directors and University Aviation Association board; Faith Ortega (2019), a helicopter mechanic and maintenance instructor with the St. Louis-based Air Evac Lifeteam, and Harry Barrett, Jr., executive director of the Palm Springs International Airport in California. Barrett is a member of the American Association of Airport Executives board of directors and chairs the organization’s diversity committee.

Scholarship recipients, listed by hometown, are:


  • Carbondale: Sami Liller, aviation technologies.
  • Carterville: Barry Eastman, freshman, aviation flight.
  • Chicago: Barakat Adeniji, junior, aviation management.
  • Creal Springs: Anthony Forgatch, junior, aviation flight.
  • Frankfort: Justin Mcgee, sophomore, aviation flight.
  • Sheridan: Melissa Pfaff, junior, aviation technologies.
  • South Elgin: Addison McCormick, sophomore, aviation technologies.
  • Wheeling: Sharon Celestine, senior, aviation management.


  • North Aurora: Anelle Dominguez, freshman, aviation flight.


  • Paducah: Hannah Sales, junior, aviation technologies.


  • Van Buren Township: Karli Gallon, sophomore, aviation management.


  • Chesterfield: Emma Traxler, freshman, aviation technologies.


  • Cranberry Township: Rebecca Roberts, aviation management, incoming freshman.
  • Monroeville: Destinyjay Maletta, sophomore, aviation management.


  • Appleton: Fawne Maguire, senior, aviation flight.

In addition, Grace Gray, a senior in aviation flight from Lakeville, Minnesota, was recognized at the event for an external $1,000 scholarship from an anonymous donor.