Carol Cooper

Aug 15, 2010   //   by admin   //   Scholarship Recipients  //  No Comments

Scholarship Recipient Date: August 15, 2010

Carol Cooper’s story sounds like something from a movie script. After her daughter, Adyson, was born, she moved to Salina from Colorado Springs to be closer to family. She wasn’t happy with her job and had been out of high school for nearly a decade. College hadn’t seemed like it would be a good fit for her.

One day she was driving down I-135 south and saw a billboard with a photo of K-State’s jet. It evoked childhood memories of riding in a Piper Cherokee on her sixth birthday. She had gone to McConnell Air Force Base for the unveiling of a Stratotanker and remembers being impressed that something that big could fly.

Something clicked that afternoon. “I had always wanted to do aviation but didn’t think it was possible. When I was growing up, I thought college was what rich people did,” she said. “But I knew I needed to be a good example for Adyson.” She began talking to her neighbors who are pilots and considering the time and money it would take to accomplish her dream. Adyson was 18 months old by then and Carol knew it would be tough spending so much time away from her daughter to focus on school. She decided it would be worth it, in the end.

“When I got my private pilot license, I took my dad up for Father’s Day,” Carol said. “It was the best gift I could have given him.”

Carol appreciates that the Burton Scholarship has allowed her to acquire flight time much faster than she had anticipated. “It’s taken a lot of the financial stress off of me. It’s the reason I got so far in two years. Flying is worth every penny, but it’s not cheap.  “I’d never flown before and I’m on track to graduate in four years. That wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the Burton Scholarship,” she said.

Now a sophomore and a CFI (Certified Flight Instructor), Carol was recently honored with the Wildcat Pride Award for Determination, awarded to only one K-State at Salina student each year. She is also a senator in the Student Governing Association, a member of the Campus Enhancement Committee, and was a member of the student delegation to AirVenture 2009 in Oshkosh, Wis.

“Everything so far has been worth it,” Carol said. “Adyson has seen that you can get what you want if you are willing to work for it. She’s even mentioned being a pilot when she grows up and loves helicopters.”

Carol’s future career goals include flight instructing and then joining a corporate flight program. Having achieved so much already, she’s not intimidated by a challenge or something that seems impossible. Her ultimate dream is to pilot a spacecraft.” With the work that Burt Rutan and Sir Richard Branson are doing right now, it’s exciting to think about what opportunities pilots will have.”

Favorite part of flying: the freedom that comes from not being on Earth anymore.

Leave a comment