2017 Scholarship Winner

“A person never truly dies until their spirit is completely forgotten and the last person who they’ve touched has perished. So long as we continue to keep the spirit alive, it continues to serve the world.” – Jarard Paige, J. Elliot Marketing


Serving the World by Paying It Forward

Cecila_PPEIn 2012, J. Elliot Marketing in partnership with Women in Aviation International (WAI) announced the $2,500 Christine Reed Memorial Flight Scholarship. Christine passed away before she was able to reach her dream of becoming a private pilot. So to keep her spirit alive, J. Elliot Marketing offered the scholarship to women ages 16-30 who had already soloed and were working towards their initial pilot certificate.

In January 2017, the fifth scholarship recipient was selected – Ms. Cecilia Kim (Longview, TX) – a newly minted private pilot (Feb 2017) and an Aviation Management undergraduate at LeTourneau University. Take a moment to learn more about this inspiring young lady who has made it her mission to become a professional aviator and ensure that there’s a path to the cockpit for young women all around the world.


Cecilia, you were born in Korea, grew up in Fiji, and now attend university in Texas. Fiji doesn’t seem like the type of place where general aviation flourishes. How did your zeal for aviation emerge on the island and eventually bring you to Texas to study?

I guess it all started when I had my first long flight to New Zealand at the age of 8. It made me wonder how an airplane can carry more than 100 passengers and stay in the air for nearly 13 hours. I also wondered how the world would look when seen from the cockpit. I especially wondered what a runway would look like when seen from passenger seat and cockpit.

Living near the airport also influenced me greatly. Hearing and seeing airplanes take-off and land looked very beautiful and made me decide that I did not want to become anything but a pilot.

I was seeking to get a degree in aviation, but Fiji does not have an aviation school or a university that offers 4-year aviation program. I thought of studying either in New Zealand or Australia, but the fees made me hesitate to apply. I also had a look at “AusAid,” a full scholarship that is offered for students in Fiji which covers everything including flights and other living expenses, but I refused to get it because it had no aviation program.

I decided to apply for LeTourneau University because I found out that it is one of the well-known universities for aviation. Even until now, I really think I made a good decision to come to LeTourneau University.

I cannot imagine myself sitting and working at the office for nearly 6-8 hours. I would rather fly for that many hours.

You mentioned in your essay that the learning styles in Fiji and the US are different. How are they different and how has this affected your transition into university studies and pilot training in the US?

Cecilia_SFGateIn Fiji, we study on our own, at our own pace. A student may be in year 10, but he/she may be studying year 8. A student may study year 11 math, but he/she may be studying year 9 history. We only needed teachers when we did not understand what the book was trying to teach, or did not know how to solve the problem. It is pretty much like a home-school program in the States.

When I came to the States, I had to pay more attention than the other local students in almost every class. I am currently taking some online classes, because some classes are only offered online. To me, I study and understand better when taking classes online, because I study on my own and at my own pace.

You have a quite a list of activities both in and out of school.  How do you seem to manage it all?

I guess it is because I really enjoy them. If I was forced to work or work for just the sake of a resume, I probably could not have continued working until now. I believe that the environment also matters. I really love the people I work with. They are very considerate and treat everyone as part of their family. This is what I also learned; to treat everyone like a family and be thankful for having the opportunity to work with them. This will serve me well if I become an aviation manager or a pilot flying an airplane.

What’s the most exciting life moment you’ve experienced that strongly impacted your interest in aviation?

It was my flight from Fiji to Korea to transition to fly to Dallas for my freshmen year at LeTourneau. I was given a chance to go into the cockpit of A333 and sit in the co-pilot seat with Captain Yoo of Korean Air, who is a great friend of my dad and a supporter for my future. Having a conversation with him and his colleagues whenever he flew to Fiji and allowing me to experience how it feels like to sit and imagine working as an airline pilot was probably one of my exciting moments. I am stepping closer and closer to achieve my goal and do what I want for my entire life.

What has been the most challenging part of your flight training?

The most challenging part was when I first started to learn to fly—I was taught in a tail-wheel plane at first. I am a very visual learner, so it was very difficult for me when my instructor was trying to teach me in a tail-wheel as I could not see what he was doing, especially when I did not even know the basics of flying.

Since I have been switched over to a tricycle plane, it helped me to learn much more easily. I could see what my instructor is trying to teach and what he/she expected me to do. Now that I know the fundamental skills of flying an airplane, I am certain that it will not be as hard to get back to tail-wheel plane.


You’re currently studying Aviation Management with a Professional Flight concentration. What are your short-term and long-term career goals in the aviation field?

My main goal is to become a pilot, but I thought it would be fun to study something else apart from the airplane. I decided to study Aviation Management as part of my major to have a better understanding of how a business and management work in the aviation field.

People ask me where I would want to work and which company I would like to work for after school. I answer, ”Anywhere I get accepted as long as I work as a pilot”. I really enjoy flying, and I want to work at any place to gain more experience and become a safer and more competent pilot to work at an airline which is my long term goal.

I have a friend who works at an airline in Dubai and it always fascinates me whenever he shows a picture of himself flying as a pilot and other countries he has visited. It really makes me want to become a pilot.

A recent visit to the De Young Art Museum in San Francisco.

A recent visit to the de Young Art Museum in San Francisco.

If you could look ahead 10 years and list all of the accomplishments you wish to achieve (both in and out of the cockpit), what would you list?

  • Complete any additional tests or training.
  • Earn my ATP rating and start working at the airline.
  • Travel all around the States and the World. I am also traveling to as many places as I can whenever I have a long break as a student. America feels like each state is its own country. The people, accents, and the land are all different. I feel like I’ve been able to visit a bunch of different countries. I also now completely understand why people say Texas is its own country.
  • Encourage other women to become a pilot if they enjoy flying- some women still hesitate to become a pilot, because they think it is a “Man’s job” and are scared of being discriminated. If more women become pilots, those kind of stereotypes would definitely be gone.

J. Elliot Marketing is proud to have Cecilia as the fifth recipient of the Christine Reed Memorial Flight Scholarship and looks forward to offering this scholarship annually. By helping others reach their dreams, J. Elliot Marketing keeps Christine’s spirit alive. Perhaps this minor step serves to inspire others to think of ways they can share their passions with the world and find ways to pay it forward.