By Isabelle Meboe
Special to Horizons

Editor’s note: Raisbeck Aviation High School (RAHS) is a public school next to the Museum of Flight (MoF) in Seattle. Western Aerospace Scholars (WAS) is an enthusiasts’ club hosted within the MoF itself, offering high-school level students from the West Coast up to five credits of aerospace-centered college curriculum. Both organizations send select students to attend a multi-day Embry-Riddle Prescott tour every summer. Meboe was one of these students. 

The most impressive aspect of the ERAU tour this year was not the propulsion lab or the flight simulators. What stood out most was the sense of family and true passion that each student and staff member demonstrated.  

This is clearly seen at all levels. Dr. Frank Ayers, ERAU Prescott Chancellor, took time out of his schedule to have lunch with our group. “The best part of my job is my daily interaction with our students,” said Ayers. “I love to share in their successes, to see their projects take shape. My wife Debbie and I live on campus, and we take the time to get to know all of our students personally.” 

“ERAU seems very focused on what its students need to learn in order to fulfill jobs later on,” according to RAHS sophomore Natalie Briscoe, who went on the trip. “Professors and students are able to interact and get to know each other on a personal level; they clearly want the best for their students,” she observed. 

ERAU made us feel at home instantly, as if we were already living there and not high school students. Everyone showed a true curiosity for what we want to do with our lives, asked questions about our studies, and showed some serious Eagle hospitality. 

On the second day, Dr. Krishna Sampigethaya of the Cyber Intelligence and Security Lab (CIS) postponed his flight to Seattle to present us a detailed and interesting informational session about CIS. We were impressed with the investment of current faculty in our group and their above-and-beyond efforts to familiarize us with the school. 

In the recess between lunch and our AXFAB tour on the third and last day of the trip, two wandering students stopped to greet us. Upon learning that we had a spare ten minutes, they voluntarily toured us around as much of the building as they could, answering our questions until our official tour guide arrived.  

There was a noticeable balance of opportunity and responsibility at ERAU radiating from both the students and the professors. All of our tour guides showed enthusiasm and respect while presenting us their home. 

Though the campus has a few key focus areas for many in the student body, tour guides made an effort to show everything ERAU has to offer. “They made sure to touch on all aspects of the school and didn’t focus on one subject. They made sure everyone was included,” said RAHS sophomore Max Welliver.  

In addition, our tour guides gave us a depth of experience that’s not found everywhere. “Most colleges just introduce you to the engineering lab,” said RAHS senior Heidi Yagen, “whereas Embry-Riddle hands you earmuffs and says ‘Welcome to our lab, care to watch a demonstration?’” 

The hands-on aspect of the school was taken to the next level for us; we got up close and personal with a machine-gun sounding propulsion system and flew Cessna 172s over Arizona. 

“Students who attend RAHS thrive in a rigorous academic environment, and ERAU is a natural progression for those who want to continue that style of learning,” said the Assistant Director of Regional Admissions, Jennifer Borge. Yagen agreed: “I loved the fact that it was RAHS in college form.” 

We students from RAHS and WAS appreciated the focus and duration of the tour experience. “That increased the amount of detail that could be added to virtually every part of the trip,” said RAHS senior Evan Grilley, “whether it be the campus tour, talking with the current students, or just getting a handle on the atmosphere of the university itself.” 

We have so much appreciation for our ERAU student tour guides: seniors Allie Brown (Aerospace Engineering), Ryan O’Connor (Aeronautical Science and Captain of the 12-time national champion Golden Eagles Flight Team), and Moritz Wienke (Aviation Business Administration, AFROTC, and RAHS alum), as well as John Moore (Admissions Staff). Having them on hand to answer all of our questions was incredibly special. 

Meeting successful and connected students from a high-quality university in person was extremely encouraging and made the thought of college more attainable for those of us feeling the pressure to make plans for our higher education. 

“Nothing makes me happier than seeing the students that I’ve been working with (for one, two, three, or even four years) make their dream of attending ERAU come true,” said Borge. 

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