Roger Robert Abraham

Aug 15, 2009   //   by admin   //   Scholarship Recipients  //  No Comments

Scholarship Recipient Date: August 15, 2010

“If it’s legal, I will fly for food,” said Roger (pronounced Ro-jé) Abraham, senior in professional pilot. So he was extremely grateful to be selected as a Burton Scholar. “I don’t feel like I do anything different than anybody else. The students here are all amazing and my story’s no different from theirs.”

Roger’s story begins in The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, where he spent his high school days drawing jets during class with his friend.

He had been told he needed to be good in math and science to be a pilot, so when his friend started on his career in aviation right after high school that led him to an officer position with Air Caribbean, Roger took a different route.

“Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, flying planes seemed so far out of reach.” So, instead, he surfed and taught sailing, and until in 1995 he made the brave decision to move to the United States to attend the University of Tampa.

Three years later he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in international business. He spent the next decade working in collegiate residence life, six years in Florida and four years in Kansas.

He moved to Wichita in 2003, not knowing it was the air capital of the world. The move might have triggered the decision to change careers.

“I was using my bachelor’s degree and my MBA, but I wasn’t happy with what I was doing,” he said. “I wanted to learn to fly, so I came back to school.”

While he had often been a passenger, he hadn’t flown a plane before starting classes at Kansas State University at Salina in 2009.

“Growing up on an island and surrounded by ocean, being up in the air keeps me from feeling so landlocked. It’s unlike any other feeling I’ve ever had.”

Roger, who became an American citizen in 2004, commutes daily to Salina because, in addition to taking classes and building flight time, he also works at Midwest Corporate Aviation. The Burton Scholarship helps with expenses that loans don’t cover, like extra flight time.

“Commuting every day from Wichita is not ideal, but with family living in Wichita, this scholarship helps keep the dream of flying alive, and every penny is so greatly appreciated. The scholarship has helped take so much financial stress and worry off my mind, so I can focus on the joy of flying.”

In his “spare time,” Roger is a free-lance photographer taking photos of engagements, weddings, and babies.

He sees his brother, a professional squash player, and his parents every three years.

“We joke that it’s like the Olympics.  We always meet in a different country,” he said. “Thank God for Facebook or I’d have a huge phone bill.”

Roger hopes to return home more often after graduating. “I’d love to fly for AirServe or another nonprofit that helps the Islands and people in need. I’m also thinking about starting my own charter company to do that.”

He also plans to help the Burton Foundation.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m humbled by being selected. I don’t consider it free money and I plan to give it back in money or time. It’s a complete privilege.”

Best thing about flying: “Flying at sunset and watching the sun melt into the horizon is especially cool when the horizon is the ocean”

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