Beating the Odds with Soaring Dreams
At the tender age of nine, Shantel Shepherd fell in love with aviation. With soaring aspirations to become an astronaut or a pilot, Shantel stayed the course to turn her dreams into a reality.
With a close-knit family of modest means in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York, Shantel was determined to pursue higher education and a professional career path that would take her around the world. Shantel is the first member of her family to attend a higher education program and is determined to reach her ultimate goal of being the first African-American female pilot to circle the globe.
To realize this dream, Shantel stumbled her way through several community college programs and saved her earnings from part-time jobs and limited resources. Finally, a much-needed referral to Aerosim Flight Academy launched her formal training path. With her mother’s unconditional, yet nervous, financial and emotional support, Shantel moved to Central Florida in early 2015 as a student pilot. Today, she has successfully completed her Private Instrument-Rated Pilot training and moves onto the Commercial Pilot Track.
In addition to a Parent Plus Loan, Shantel continues to expand her network for professional development and financial aid opportunities to continue her training at Aerosim Flight Academy. At the recommendation of the Aerosim Student Services team, she recently joined The Ninety Nines (99s), an international organization of women pilots that promotes advancement of aviation through education, scholarships and mutual support while honoring the unique history and sharing a passion for flight. As a member of the Spaceport Chapter of the 99s, Shantel was encouraged to apply for the Mary Blackwell Joehrendt-Anne Walker Memorial Scholarship. Shantel competed with members from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee and was judged on individual presentations, documentations, accomplishments, reference letters, individual story and desire.
Shantel was honored with the scholarship award for 2016 in the amount of $1,500. Additionally, this award has opened other doors and scholarship opportunities for Shantel as she continues to pursue her training to become a Flight Instructor (CFI).
“It has not always been an easy road and I have made a lot of sacrifices, yet I know with persistence, flexibility and a solid work ethic, I am on the right path to one day have the opportunity to become a captain of a major airline,” notes Shantel.