International Students Earn Their Wings Through UVU Aviation

International Students Earn Their Wings Through UVU Aviation

The Utah Valley University Aviation Program hosts students from all over the globe. The flight program offered at UVU is flexible and provides opportunities for international students to expand their skill-set and meet their goals. Here, hopes and dreams of careers in aviation become a reality.

International students pursue their degrees at UVU for many reasons. Moeka Nakamura, an international student from Japan, was searching for a university in the United States where she could study aviation, English, and German at the same time when she stumbled across Utah Valley University. I didn’t take long for Nakamura to realize that UVU was a perfect fit for her.

  “My first major here was aviation management because I thought I didn’t have the talent or aptitude to be a pilot,” she said. “However, most of my friends in aviation started flying and as I kept looking at them in the airport, I changed my mind and decided to accept the challenge of becoming a pilot.” 

Katie Lin is from Taiwan. Ever since she took her first ride on an airplane as a child, she knew that a career in aviation was right for her. “People thought I was crazy,” Lin said. “But I even influenced my older brother and convinced him that being a pilot would be a cool job.”

Her passion for flight ended up being more than worthwhile. Her brother did some research and found UVU around the same time that Katie applied to become a foreign exchange student in the United States. “What are the odds that I was able to exchange to Lone Peak High School, located roughly 20 minutes away from UVU?” Lin said. “I knew it was meant to be, and I knew that as soon as I finished high school, I would go to UVU. It isn’t just a dream anymore — it is my life.”

Just getting to UVU is not the end of their difficult road, however. Entrance into UVU’s flight training program is quite competitive. A separate flight training application is required of all aspiring students before selection. In addition, international students must meet very high standards of English speaking. “In the program, English is a little different. There are so many professional words I have never seen before,” said Michael Cheng, a student from China.

Indeed, the flight lingo and specialized verbiage can present a big challenge to international students — even those who speak English fluently. Michael Avegnon, from Ghana, says that one of his problems is people not understanding his accent. “We speak English in Ghana,” Avegnon said, “but I still had some minor setbacks in terms of communication because my accent sometimes made it very hard for people to understand me. I frequently have to repeat words over and over again.”

Despite language obstacles, these international students work hard to accomplish their dreams. They know that those dreams start with obtaining a high-quality education. 

“I am working on my Certified Flight Instructor license,” said international student Minjae Lee. “Once I graduate, I would love to work as a flight instructor. As I am trying to build my flight hours to become an airline pilot, I want to help other pilots achieve their dreams.”

Avegnon dreams of starting the first flight school in Ghana. “When the flight school is successful, I would then move on to attaining a national airline for Ghana,” he said.

Lin wants to return to her home country and fly for an airline there. “I would also really like to continue to recruit and invite more women into aviation industry,” she explained.

Nakamura dreams of being a pilot in Japan once she graduates. “I still have to go to flight school in Japan too, but I think my English skills that I’m getting from the training here will be an advantage for me in Japan,” she said.

And the experience of the program is leading to employment.

“I’ve just accepted a job offer at Part 135 cargo carrier flying Metroliners. My dream is to fly either wide-body jets like Boeing 777 or private jets like Gulfstream,” Russian student Timur Seliutin said.

Regardless of the dreams each international student holds close to their heart, they can all agree on one thing: UVU was the best place they could have come to receive their degree. 

“UVU aviation program is one of the best, and you wouldn’t be making any mistakes as you apply to join the aviation program,” Avegnon said. “The staff, faculty, and flight instructors are all very helpful and great at what they do. They are always nice and professional and give the best training and advice for you to be successful.”

Katie Lin agrees, “It is the absolute best degree program you could ever be in.”

The School of Aviation Sciences takes great pride in its students, and international students merit additional praise. It just goes to show that no matter where you are from, there is a place for you at UVU.