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Jenkins named as 2013 AET distinguished senior

Jessica Jenkins

Ms. Jessica D. Jenkins has been named the 2013 Distinguished Senior for EKU's Department of Applied Engineering and Technology. She was honored during a presentation on Friday, April 5, 2013, at the annual College of Business and Technology College to Careers senior recognition luncheon.

The student is selected based on superior academic achievement, excellent leadership, citizenship, character and services to EKU.

Jessica Jenkins arrived at EKU the fall of 2009, wide-eyed and full of anticipation about becoming a professional pilot, as part of the EKU’s Professional Pilot program - specifically with the dream of being one of the few female pilots.

She came to EKU with no aviation experience. Her first major hurdle came when trying to get her FAA Medical certificate, a necessity to fly. The FAA wanted to review her medical history to determine if a previous jaw surgery would affect her ability to safely pilot aircraft. Because of the FAA’s delay, she could not start flying until 60 days into her freshman year, putting her behind her peers. And flying did not come naturally. By her own admission, “landing was absolutely terrifying.” On the ground she could explain what to do, but she could not make it happen in the plane.

Jessica felt inadequate because everyone else was close to completing their private pilot’s license and she had yet to solo. In frustration, she began to feel as if she just was not cut out to fly airplanes. This was the lowest part of her flight career when she decided to forget her dream of being a professional pilot and change to aviation management.

Just before this dream-ending decision, former EKU Assistant Chief Flight Instructor Kelly Farris began flying with Jessica. By her own admission, Jessica blossomed under Kelly’s instructional technique. Kelly restored Jessica’s confidence and re-ignited her love of flying. After this “intervention” by a caring, thoughtful and knowledgeable instructor, Jessica went to on to achieve her private and commercial certificates with an instrument rating and to achieve her dream to become a commercial pilot.

Jessica’s perseverance on the flight line over the last four years is mirrored academically by completion of a double concentration in Professional flight and Aerospace Management, taking 18 credits each semester, and graduating as an Honors Scholar. This accomplishment is even more significant when you consider that since her freshman year worked 20-25 hours a week as a server to pay for flight fees.

Jessica’s story confirms the importance of living our dreams, of never giving up no matter how high the roadblocks seem, and most significantly, the role that our instructors and mentors play in enabling us to succeed. When we encounter “push back” in life, Jessica’s story reminds us that we need to find a way to go around, to go over, or to go under that roadblock on our way to our dreams!


At the luncheon, the college honored distinguished seniors and distinguished alumni from each of the academic departments within the College of Business and Technology. Mr. Mark Klee was selected as the AET departmental distinguished alum. In addition, recipients of scholarships and awards for the 2012-13 academic year were recognized. Students were honored for outstanding achievement and more than 40 area employers were on hand to engage in networking activities with college graduating seniors.

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Published on April 04, 2013

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