My Experience As the 2018 Helicopter Scholarship Winner

This scholarship provided Holley an all-expenses paid trip to the 2018 Heli Expo. Heli Expo is not affiliated with the Abingdon Foundation. This post was written by Holley Gardel.

2018 Helicopter conference scholarship winner Holley Gardel

Although I had been involved in the helicopter industry previously and am a volunteer with Whirly-Girls, I applied for the scholarship because I knew it would be the best way to make valuable connections in the industry and help me move forward in my career. Since I had been to Heli-Expo several times, I knew what to expect. However, I have always been glued to the Whirly-Girls booth and couldn’t get out and participate in networking events and programming. I was thankful for being able to take advantage of the show and all it had to offer. I believe a first-time attendee would have a mind-blowing experience. And someone like me, who has been many times, but couldn’t take advantage of all the expo has to offer previously, would also highly beneficial.

When I applied for the scholarship I was happy about the submission process. It was easy and the creative component gave me the opportunity to provide a clear picture of who I am and my strengths. I thought if I shot a video of me on the river (in my natural habitat – ha!), talking about what was important to me and why this scholarship would help me, the Foundation would quickly understand where I was coming from. Personally, I appreciate the vague guidelines because it gave me room to come up with something creative. It’s hard, for sure, but that’s the point, right? Scholarships aren’t supposed to come easy. And so many of us apply every year for training funds or factory courses to try to get ahead in our careers, and you always need to write essays and get letters of recommendation. It is tough to ask people to do that for you year after year, so the Abingdon Foundation scholarship gave me a different way to present myself to the board and I think that is really special. My near-future plans include me getting a better job – one where I am flying better-maintained equipment, getting paid what I am worth, and hopefully not spending so much time away from home (I’m away 6 mos/yr right now). And they absolutely include me being the best pilot I can be, with a perfect safety record. I want to get more experience, as much training as possible, and always perform to the best of my ability. I will also spread the word about the Abingdon Foundation and the scholarship opportunities with my network.