For three of Eastern Mennonite University’s seniors looking ahead after graduation, the beauty of a career in aviation is in the endless opportunities.
Ivy Kreiser has spent her final semester with Venture Jets, a private charter and aviation services company in Lancaster, and now plans to work there after graduation. But she loves the potential of her chosen profession: “I’m never quite sure where aviation will take me.”
That’s also the beauty of the education they’ve chosen: Graduates of EMU at Lancaster’s aviation program hold a bachelor’s degree in leadership and organizational management, as well as several flight certifications – preparation for a career as a corporate or commercial pilot, but also for opportunities in the aviation industry as airport operations managers, safety inspectors, and flight instructors.
Aviation 430 is the capstone course that helps almost-grads prepare for their next step and narrow their interests.
“This six-credit course is an exciting way for our seniors to finish their studies and explore a particular field within the profession,” said Director of Aviation John Sibole, a veteran commercial pilot, instructor, and former FAA safety inspector. “Because the other courses in the final semester are online general education courses, they can take their internship anywhere in the world. These positions can help to confirm that our students are heading where they want to go with their job search, and internships often are a gateway to employment with the host organization.”
Sibole and other aviation staff, including the program’s industry liaison Karl Clemmensen, help to match students with host organizations.
Kreiser used her already-established network and knowledge of the area to choose Venture Jets Inc. for her internship. “They have excellent and fun airplanes, they are located at Lancaster airport which is very close to me, and I have a few friends who already work there that have had a great experience,” Kreiser says. She has found value in learning to fly jets as well as handle customer relations, preparing her to work for Venture Jets after graduating.
Noelle Yorgey first learned of Agape Flights as a junior in high school, on a family vacation in Florida. She heard Agape’s chief executive officer, Allen Speer, who was serving as the interim pastor of the church she visited. She then toured Agape and learned of their desire to serve. “My passion for aviation was sparked as I realized the impact aviation could make on people’s lives,” Yorgey says.
Agape Flights, which means “God’s Love Flights,” is a mission aviation organization committed to providing the resources needed by missionaries serving within the Caribbean along with natural disaster relief, from medical supplies to daily mail. The organization also provides volunteer opportunities to the community.
“The opportunity to learn under an excellent maintenance team has already helped further my understanding as a pilot,” Yorgey says. This experience has also broadened her horizons to exploring mechanic positions, as those are needed in missions as well. Upon graduating, Yorgey plans to continue pursuing opportunities that allow for her to serve in mission aviation and build relationships within the aviation community.
Cienna Stover fulfilled her internship while working at Aero-Tech Services teaching private and commercial pilots. She was hired there as an instructor in June 2021.
“My main responsibility is providing a safe learning environment for my students to reach their goals,” she says. Her favorite part of the job is “getting to see people realize their potential in aviation.”
Stover’s most rewarding moment, she says, was probably sending her first trainee for his checkride. “It is also the little things that I love about aviation. I have done first flight lessons with people ages 12- to 81-years-old and the excitement on their faces when they realize they are flying an airplane is so rewarding.”
Besides the thrill of watching her students succeed, the internship also helped Stover realize just how much she loves to learn. “For my future in this career I hope to find a job that provides me opportunities to push myself,” Stover says. “There are infinite areas to learn, improve, explore, and that is something I find exciting about aviation.”
Stover is still considering other options post-graduation besides flying for the airlines, such as charter planes. She will soon reach 1,000 hours of flight time, which will position her for a broad range of flying jobs.