Coral, a Black woman with long braided hair, poses in an orange dress, a small plane taking off in the distance. Coral, a Black woman with long braided hair, poses in an orange dress, a small plane taking off in the distance.
A departing Cessna 172 provides a perfect backdrop for Aviation Business Administration major and Boeing Scholar Coral Scotland. (Embry-Riddle photo / Bill Fredette-Huffman)

Boeing Scholar Program Helps Eagle Honor Her Late Father’s Memory

Story by Jon O'Neill
Jon O'Neill

↖ This heading is for screen readers and wont be visible on the page.

Aviation Business Administration major Coral Scotland’s Boeing Scholar award has helped her follow in her father’s footsteps at Embry-Riddle.

Until she was actually accepted at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, it never occurred to Coral Scotland (’24) that she would follow her father’s academic journey at the world’s leading aviation and aerospace educator.

Her acceptance to Embry-Riddle came just days before her father’s passing in 2020, and while Coral was ready to make her late father proud, the cost of college loomed large for a family that had just suffered a grievous loss.

That’s where The Boeing Company came in.

Coral was chosen as part of the 2020 cohort of Boeing Scholars, the second ever at Embry-Riddle, and the award helped cover many of the expenses that otherwise might have stopped her education before it started.

Each fall, Boeing awards a select group of outstanding freshmen scholarships of $5,000 to $7,500 yearly for two years as they begin degree programs at Embry-Riddle. The scholarships are supported by a $3 million endowment from the world’s largest aerospace company and leading aircraft manufacturer and include exclusive tours of Boeing facilities and networking opportunities with key company leaders.

“This significantly alleviated my out-of-pocket costs and seemed to be a direct sign from God that I needed to pursue my higher education at Embry-Riddle,” Coral said.

As she prepares to graduate with her B.S. in Aviation Business Administration from the Daytona Beach Campus, Coral took time to reflect on her Embry-Riddle experience, the support she got from Boeing and her quest to make her dad and mom proud.

Tell us about your background

I was born in Pembroke Pines, Florida, but I call Antigua, a very small island in the Caribbean, my home. My parents are immigrants; they grew up in poverty and worked extremely hard to build a better life here for their family.

I grew up with one older and two younger sisters, and I had an amazing childhood filled with nothing but memories of happiness. We’re a Christian family, so church has also always been a safe space for me.

How did you first get interested in aviation?

My interest is because of my father, Embry-Riddle alumnus Robert F. J. Scotland (’92). He was a plane connoisseur who worked as a jet engine salesman, which allowed him to travel the world and talk about planes (what more could a lover of the sky ask for, right?).

My family and I lived about 20 minutes from North Perry Airport in South Florida, and my dad could tell the different types of planes just by their SOUND alone. He never ceased to amaze me with his vast knowledge of airplanes, the way they worked, the math, the physics, the engineering and even the weather.

In this photo from December 2017, Coral Scotland and her mom, Dr. Dion Phillips-Scotland, celebrate the birthday of Coral’s dad, Robert Scotland. (Photo: Coral Scotland)
In this photo from December 2017, Coral Scotland and her mom, Dr. Dion Phillips-Scotland, celebrate the birthday of Coral’s dad, Robert Scotland. (Photo: Coral Scotland)

My father would also take me on practice flights while working toward his private pilot’s license. I was giddy to get into a plane with my father as the pilot in command. He used to say he wanted his children to get pilot’s licenses more than he wanted them to get driver’s licenses.

So, in the months before my 16th birthday, my father began preparing me for my own flight lessons. I got handed down his expensive headphones and all his flight equipment, even his slightly banged-up flight bag and fuel sump.

If I have one regret in life, it is not finishing my private pilot program. After my father’s passing in 2020, I found it nearly impossible to fly without crying or thinking of him. I always remember him talking about the day we could fly, just him and I, in a Cessna, wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted. Despite having three other daughters, I was the only one who shared his immense love for flying.

My father never got to see me fly solo, and that pains me a lot. I still hope to honor my father’s wishes one day and earn my private license because he is the reason I love aviation.

Why did you choose Embry-Riddle for college?

My dad. I had no intention of attending university, and even though I had started several college applications to satisfy my mom, I never completed them. I remember being with my dad in his hospital room one day, and he randomly asked if I had applied to Embry-Riddle yet.

When I said no, he made me apply on my laptop right there, and he never had a doubt that I would be accepted. Although I had done well in school, I never thought about going to college, let alone at a prestigious private aeronautical institution.

He watched over my shoulder as I filled out my application from start to finish and saw me hit “submit.” When I told him shortly before he passed away that I had been accepted, he simply nodded and said, “Good.”

How did you feel about being selected as a Boeing Scholar?

I felt undeserving at first. In my eyes, I hadn’t done anything particularly special to merit earning a scholarship from a company as renowned as Boeing.

But it was crystal clear this was all part of God’s divine plan for me. I was elated to be accepted to this prestigious university, but I knew I could not afford it.

I was proud to be one of nine Boeing Scholars for the entire university. At the time, though, I did not understand the magnitude or benefits of the award. I had no idea just how much more was to come my way from being part of this exclusive group. All in all, I was just grateful to God for being chosen.

How has being a Boeing Scholar shaped your Embry-Riddle experience so far?

Having the title of Boeing Scholar has let me know that I am qualified to be here and that I can do this. Boeing believed in me before I even believed in myself.

Like Embry-Riddle’s reputation precedes me, so does my title as a Boeing Scholar. It has opened doors that I didn’t even know existed, such as being invited to networking events with Boeing executives and going on field trips to Boeing facilities.

This summer, I will be starting an on-campus internship with Boeing, and I know being a Boeing Scholar gave me a foot in the door. I am part of the Engineering Developmental Program as a Supply Chain intern, and being a Boeing Scholar has also made me more confident in who I am and where I have the potential to go.

Coral, a Black woman with long braided hair, poses against a small plane with the Embry-Riddle wordmark on its tail.

What are some of the most significant benefits of being a Boeing Scholar?

There are almost too many to name, and the ‘Boeing Scholar’ title alone has been a huge benefit.
It has allowed me to meet so many important people from Boeing and on the Embry-Riddle campus.
My name is forever ingrained here as a 2020 Boeing Scholar, something I am eternally grateful for.

What is your favorite memory about being part of the Boeing Scholar program?

My all-time favorite memory was the opportunity to visit the 787 Dreamliner facility in Charleston, South Carolina, which was the experience of a lifetime. Because when else would I have the opportunity for an exclusive, in-depth tour of a facility like this? When would I have had the time, money or resources to meet the people I met that day?

It was my favorite not just because of its exclusivity but because it completely revolutionized what I wanted to do in the future.

I had been an Aerospace Engineering major my first two years at Embry-Riddle, and I never felt quite right. Although I was capable of the work, I never found enjoyment or fulfillment in my classes like I did in high school. I couldn’t relate to any of my peers on a social level, and I was struggling to feel like I fit in at Embry-Riddle, especially as a black female.

In December 2021, I had gone on my first trip to visit Boeing’s Cape Canaveral site. A central part of the visit included one-on-one meetings with top engineers and the head of the facility. Unfortunately, I did NOT enjoy the trip. In fact, it made me feel even more alienated from my colleagues and potential future coworkers, who never seemed to have any doubts about what they were doing.

I was struggling. After the trip, I found myself failing classes and wanting to drop out of college completely. Ultimately, I found the courage to do what was best for me, and I switched my major to Aviation Business Administration. Although I faced some heavy scrutiny from family members and close friends, I knew in my heart that all my dad ever wanted was for me to be happy.

So, I pushed forward.

In Fall 2022, when I made my trip to the Dreamliner facility, I went as a business major instead of an engineer. It allowed me to look at Boeing with a fresh set of eyes. Our tour guides were wonderful Boeing employees whom I could relate to and talk to far more easily than anyone I had met previously.

The second trip showed me that I didn’t have to force myself to fit into a box to be an asset. I had skills and talents that people don’t normally appreciate or recognize, and I had found my calling at Boeing.

What is your ultimate career goal, and how is Embry-Riddle helping you reach it?

While my ultimate goal is to be a wife and a mother, I am now working toward a career as a part of Boeing Global Services, conducting outreach to communities and local schools and honestly just engaging with the people side of Boeing.

While I truly believe my purpose in life is to create and care for a family of my own, Embry-Riddle has given me the opportunity to grow academically and professionally. It has provided the resources and support to explore all the world has to offer me. I know I have the capacity to do wonders in the corporate world, and soon, I’ll have the degree to prove it!

What would you say to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

Allow yourself the chance to change your mind, to grow and to step outside of what everyone else expects from you.

As a people pleaser, all I ever wanted to do was what everyone wanted me to do, but I was so unhappy. I was scared to change my mind about the degree I wanted because I did not want people to think less of me for going from engineering to business.

I think you must be open to the idea that it’s okay to start over from scratch sometimes and to have the resilience to do what feels right for you. Remember, it took me two years to gain the courage to do what made me truly happy.

Anything else you would like to add?

I want to dedicate my experience as a Boeing Scholar at Embry-Riddle to my father, Robert, and my mother, Dr. Dion Phillips-Scotland.  

I know I talked a lot about my dad as an inspiration, but without a female role model as empathetic, intelligent, diligent and devout as my mother, I would have never made it this far.

My mom answered every call when I felt like dropping out, calmed every nerve when I was scared I wouldn’t succeed and reminded me that I was loved—unconditionally. She is my rock.

I can never thank my parents enough for the foundation they built and the life they created for me. I am privileged and blessed beyond words. Knowing that they grew up impoverished but were able to build a life where they could send me to flight training and then to a private university, all while caring for their other three daughters as well … I can’t explain how much everything I’ve done is to honor my parents.”

Want to read more inspiring interviews?

We thought so.

Read more interviews