Scholarships Open Doors, Reduce Stress

College is an investment in yourself. It’s a path to the future career- and ultimately the future life—that you dream of. As you start to prepare for the college years, it’s important to keep an eye out for scholarships and grants that can help reduce the financial burden on you and your family.

B.S. in Aerospace and Occupational Safety major, Fernando Avila has received 15 different scholarships to attend Embry-Riddle. (Photo: Fernando Avila)
B.S. in Aerospace and Occupational Safety major, Fernando Avila has received 15 different scholarships to attend Embry-Riddle. (Photo: Fernando Avila)

Texas native and Embry-Riddle senior Fernando Avila is a prime example of how scholarships can open doors for the future. Growing up in a military family with a father who was a pilot, Avila was always surrounded by aviation. He was fascinated with aviation safety and eventually decided he wanted a career as a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) aircraft accident investigator.

Since his father was an alumnus, Avila was no stranger to the benefits of an education at Embry-Riddle.

“Embry-Riddle is considered the premier aviation institution in the world; programs are taught by the best professionals in the industry; the university is equipped with the latest technologies and the university offers a safety undergraduate and graduate degree program,” said Avila. “These characteristics aligned with my goals and naturally enticed me to choose Embry-Riddle as my school.”

Now a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace and Occupational Safety major, Avila has received 15 different scholarships to attend Embry-Riddle, including the Presidential Institutional Scholarship from Embry-Riddle, College of Aviation Philanthropy Scholarship from Embry-Riddle donors, Comcast NBC Universal Scholarship, Lockheed Martin STEM Scholarship, Tuskegee Airman Scholarship and Charles County Scholarship Fund.

“Paying for school takes time and energy,” he said. “However, scholarships have helped me relieve some of the stress of paying off school and put that energy towards learning and immersing myself within my degree program.”

Avila’s high school counselor played an essential role in finding these scholarships—and knowing where to start. 

“My counselor led me to several scholarship websites and local and state organizations in my community and advised me to ask the financial aid office and professors. Additionally, because my family is a military family, many of the volunteering organizations I participated in had scholarships. All these organizations were very helpful in providing information about scholarships.”

As a result, Avila has more time to focus on his studies and college experience. He’s an active Catholic Student Union (CSU) member and is currently president of the group. He also studied abroad in Greece during Summer 2022, sailing through the Aegean Sea and exploring several Greek Islands, working with safety professionals with Aegean Airlines and hiking through the mountains of Northern Greece while also learning about safety program management and travel communication.

Avila shared the following tips that can help when searching for college scholarships:

  1. Ask professors, school counselors and the financial aid office for scholarship opportunities.
  2. Join clubs because some offer scholarships.
  3. Ask questions, and don’t be afraid to follow up.
  4. Sign up for scholarship databases.

Never give up when you receive a letter saying you were not a scholarship recipient. There are many organizations that set aside funds to aid students in financing college. Just keep digging deep in your search, and you will find scholarships.

“Additionally, parents are very important in this process,” Avila said. “I would not be at Embry-Riddle if I did not have the help and support from my parents in searching for and applying for each scholarship. Together is better for achieving success.”