Free to take to the skies

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Heather Wrigley, Reporter

The Utah Valley University School of Aviation Sciences has named Robert Edward Lopez III, 24, the inaugural winner of the Bernon and Irene Smith Endowed Aviation Scholarship.

Wayne Dornan, dean of the College of Aviation & Public Services at UVU, announced the selection of the first student to receive the new scholarship, which provides the recipient with a waiver equal to half their resident tuition each semester.

“We’re pleased the Smith family elected and supported the aviation program through this endowed scholarship,” said Greg Schwab, chair of UVU’s School of Aviation Sciences, one of the largest university-based flights schools in the nation. “Robert had a solid, genuinely written application that showed a sincere interest in pursuing this major. It will help solidify his progress toward his degree.”

Lopez is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Science, with a professional pilot emphasis. As the senator of aviation science and public services with UVU’s student council, he spends several hours a week making students aware of opportunities at the school and within student government.

“I’ve really enjoyed learning from the exceptional faculty that make UVU’s aviation program one of the best in the nation,” Lopez said. “Working with so many like-minded people has made me even more determined to pursue my goal of earning my degree and flying commercially.”

Lopez belongs to the professional pilot fraternity Alpha Eta Rho and is a member of UVU’s National Intercollegiate Flight Association team, which competed at the national finals this spring.

A 2007 graduate of El Toro High School, Lopez earned his private pilot rating July 3 at UVU and will soon begin working on his instrument rating. He will graduate next fall.

“Pursuing aviation has been exciting, to say the least,” Lopez said. “It’s technical, and it’s a fun skill. I get to take to the skies. My classroom is above Utah’s mountains, valleys, lakes and rivers, and I get to see it all from a bird’s eye view.”

The Bernon and Irene Smith Endowed Aviation Scholarship is meant to inspire students to follow their passion for aviation and fulfill their dreams. It is available to those taking classes at UVU, enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Aviation program.