By Heather Barstow
I’m am aviation management student in USU Eastern with an emphasis in drones. I was awarded
a travel scholarship to attend the Women in Aviation International Conference in Nashville.
My experience at the week-long conference was great. People of different backgrounds came
together to talk about how we can best support each other and learn how to become better
There were a variety of keynote speakers who shared their experiences. One was the first woman
pilot in the Air Force, others had interesting perspectives of women in aviation positions. I was
surrounded by people who wanted to share their excitement and knowledge about what they love
I got to meet so many great people and even had the chance to meet Wally Funk, the first female
air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board and the first female Federal
Aviation Agency inspector. She became the oldest person to travel to space at the age of 82 on
July 20, 2021, the anniversary of the first Apollo moon landing.
Wally was super spunky and spending a few minutes with her inspired me to strive to be like her.
She was always smiling, laughing, and having a great time.
I had opportunities to talk and network with people from airlines and drone companies. I had the
opportunity to learn from them and share my knowledge of what we do at Utah State Eastern in
the drone program.
The Women in Aviation Conference really opened my eyes to job opportunities that I could
potentially do in the future. I encourage anyone and everyone to attend Women in Aviation at
least once in their life. It is a great opportunity to learn how to talk to professional people and
make connections others from across the world.
I appreciate the chance to have been a part of the aviation program at USU Eastern. It has given
me many opportunities to grow, become an advocate for women aviators, and represent USU in
a fun and exciting way.