Dreams Soar, the non-profit organization founded in 2016 to inspire students to pursue aviation and other science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) paths, named Lauren Abernathy of Ocoee, Florida, as its first Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University academic scholarship recipient.
Shaesta Waiz, the founder and president of Dreams Soar and Embry-Riddle alumna, announced the creation of the scholarship earlier this year. Waiz became the youngest woman to fly solo around the world in a single-engine aircraft in 2017 when she circled the globe in an A36 Beechcraft Bonanza at the age of 30. That trip spanned 25,000 nautical miles and 22 countries, providing Waiz the opportunity to speak to more than 3,000 children about the value of aviation and STEM careers.
Since that time, Dreams Soar has collaborated with 29 organizations in nine countries and hosted 26 outreach events. Dreams Soar said the collaborative efforts and events have collectively reached more than 11,000 children worldwide.
Dreams Soar will formally present the new $5,000 scholarship to Abernathy during NBAA’s Regional Forum on January 29 in West Palm Beach, Florida. “Scholarships help make dreams a reality for many of us and I am so proud to introduce our new program with Embry-Riddle, where it all began for me,” Waiz said. “I congratulate Lauren as our first scholarship winner. Her dedication to and passion for aviation are inspiring and she represents the Dreams Soar mission of supporting outstanding women seeking careers in the STEM field of study.”
Abernathy, who earned her private pilot certificate in 2018 and is finishing her instrument rating, is pursuing a bachelor's of science in aeronautical science with a minor in aviation safety at Embry-Riddle. She is active in Women in Aviation, works part-time at the university as a flight supervisor, and mentors new students as a volunteer in the flight line assimilation program.