Cienna Stover – a first-year student in Eastern Mennonite University’s new leadership and organizational management bachelor’s degree program with a concentration in aviation – has completed her first solo flight.
Stover, a resident of southern Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was the first student officially accepted into the program, and therefore received a free “Discovery Flight,” which she took on March 10. Seven and a half months later, she soloed, on Oct. 31. Her flight instructor is Mitchell Shenk.
“When the plane left the ground for the first time with just me in it, all I could do was smile ear to ear and cry happy tears,” she writes below. “It was an absolutely beautiful, growing, scary and amazing experience all at once.”
She answered a few questions about her passion for flying:
Why are you interested in aviation, and when did you make the decision that this was in your future?
My interest in aviation started when I was little. For as long as I can remember, my head has always been in the clouds. It’s where I find comfort and happiness.
What was your first solo experience like?
My first solo brought about so many emotions at once. I was shaking like a leaf from nerves, but my heart was so, so happy. When the plane left the ground for the first time with just me in it, all I could do was smile ear to ear and cry happy tears. It was an absolutely beautiful, growing, scary and amazing experience all at once.
Did you do anything special to celebrate this big step in your career?
I didn’t have any plans to celebrate, but I shared the news with my friends and family and received many congratulations, which was special enough for me.
Why did you choose Lancaster at EMU for your professional preparation?
I chose EMU because I felt the program was a fit for me and would best prepare me for my career. So far I feel I have learned and grown more than I ever thought possible, and I think the support and encouragement I find from the EMU community that brought me to choose this school are largely to thank for that.
What have you most enjoyed about the program?
Three things I’ve enjoyed are of course the flying, the classes, and that classes are one day a week, because it gives an easier way to juggle work, flight lessons, and schoolwork.
What are your professional goals?
My professional goal is to become a commercial airline pilot.