Haley Dees, 2023 Golden Flash Award Recipient

“Your path will look different from mine, the people sitting next to you and the people in your classes next semester. Don't compare yourself to other people who haven't lived your life or had the same experiences.”

Haley Dees, a junior Honors College student studying aerospace engineering, quickly embraced opportunities for leadership and involvement when she enrolled at Kent State University. In her first semester as an undergraduate student, she joined the High-Powered Rocket Team-Avionics, served as a tutor at the Academic Success Center, was inducted into the Honors Leadership Academy and helped co-found the Women in Engineering Club. Since then, she has taken on new challenges, allowing her to channel her passions for aeronautics, research, service and inclusion.

In June 2022, Haley was appointed by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to the Kent State University Board of Trustees. During her two-year term as a non-voting member of the board, she will bring the perspective of the undergraduate student body to meetings. She also serves as a student representative on the gender subcommittee of the KSU Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Taskforce.

“When you are committing to a new project, organization or other endeavor, you should focus less on how it will build your resume and more on how it will make your younger self proud of who you have become,” said Haley. 

She takes pride in her work to create unique academic experiences for others. Last year, Haley led the planning of the Women in Engineering Club's Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. This event brought students grades 7-12 to the Kent Campus for a day of engineering themed activities and information sessions where students could participate in hands-on learning involving 3D modeling, MATLAB coding and introductory physics concepts, as well as tour campus. 

Haley also worked with individuals at the College of Aeronautics and Engineering to adapt chemistry, aerospace engineering and science of sound educational activities for six- to nine-year-old students during the first Robotics Lego Explore Challenge held at Kent State University earlier this year.

Her deep involvement at the university has led to many meaningful experiences, but there is one she has found to be supremely impactful: her participation in the 2022 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience. 

Throughout the program, Haley conducted a research project under the guidance of Dr. Ali Abdul-Aziz, where she studied the aerodynamic impacts of different winglet shapes on an aircraft's performance. The experience included hands-on research in the College of Aeronautics and Engineering Wind Tunnel Laboratory and the opportunity to present at the university and elsewhere.

“Haley is heavily involved within the Kent community and very passionate about Kent State,” said Autumn Ohl, Haley’s classmate and award nominator. “She is always encouraging her fellow classmates to get involved in any way that they can, especially with research.”

In October 2022, Haley earned first place in her category at Kent State University's Undergraduate Three-minute Thesis Competition and presented at the 2023 KSU Undergraduate Research Symposium earlier this year. She also presented her work at a Society for Women Engineers WE Local Conference in Detroit and appeared on The Research Review, a student-run podcast covering undergraduate research at the university.

Haley strives to give back to her peers by meeting with fellow students or through leadership panels to share her knowledge and experiences. In these conversations, she likes to remind them that everyone’s path is different. 

“Your path will look different from mine, the people sitting next to you and the people in your classes next semester,” said Haley. “Don't compare yourself to other people who haven't lived your life or had the same experiences.”