Alumni Spotlight: Kris Palcho, '90

Kris Palcho came to Kent State University feeling connected from her very first visit as a high school student. From the start, she remembers the interest that faculty and staff took in her learning and success and has always felt a part of the Kent ‘family’. “In all aspects of my life I’ve tried to pay forward that spirit of care for and interest in others,” she said.

Kris and Tim Palcho in Florence, Italy
Kris graduated from Kent State University in 1990 with a bachelor's degree in general studies  (BGS) and a minor in flight technology. In 2016, she graduated with a master's of public administration with an emphasis on public policy. Now, Kris works for the Federal Aviation Association, Flight Standards Service Leadership Development Branch as a Leadership Coach and Team Development consultant. 

Kris's story provides a realistic depiction of what many students may encounter during their time pursuing an undergraduate degree. Leaning into other priorities, Kris graduated with her undergraduate degree in approximately eight years. She was able to combine her love for English and passion for flying, putting her ahead of her time in pursuing an academic experience with a multidisciplinary approach. This approach to her studies enabled her to lay the foundation in her education and quest for life-long learning, begin her development as a whole person through self-exploration in her studies, and launched her into a career path where she is able to continue her love of personal connection while giving back to the place that helped her to be authentic. 

Kris was able to articulate her experience by completing a self-guided questionnaire and participating in a good old-fashioned phone conversation with Alyssa Robinson, director of strategic communications and external relations (yes - that is correct; not a Zoom call).

Here is what Kris had to say: 

What inspired you to become involved in your industry/pursue a career in your field?
A fascination with how things fly brought me to aviation.  A genuine curiosity in what drives people landed me in coaching.  
What is the best part of your current job? 
People! Connecting directly with people is what fuels me each day. 
What are your long-term career goals? 
Continue learning, say yes to opportunity, give back whenever possible. 
What was your favorite course of study when you were at Kent State? 
Anything flight-related was my favorite, especially climatology taught by Professor Schmidlin.   I was very excited to see the aviation weather minor become available to students. I also loved the classes in my English curriculum. At first, I was unsure about being featured as the Alumni Spotlight for CAE having graduated with a BGS, however after having talked with you [Alyssa], I see why my experience is valuable and worth sharing with current and future students. 
What are you most looking forward to seeing in the future of the College of Aeronautics and Engineering?  
The breakthrough contributions the current students will make to the industry as alumni. 
What is a fun fact about yourself? 
I’m a novice beekeeper and we’ve hosted 6 high school exchange students that we are fortunate enough to still keep in contact with.
What is your biggest accomplishment to date? 
Along with Tim, our biggest accomplishment is raising our son.  In spite of my many parenting mistakes along the way, our son is a brilliant, caring, authentic contributor to the world.  
What is one piece of advice you have for our current students? 
Stay curious. Stay curious even when failing; stay curious about why you failed. Feedback is essential to growth. 

Kris is an active member of the CAE family, participating in many different capacities. When Kris was asked what keeps her engaged with CAE 30 years after graduating with her bachelor's degree, her response was rooted in CAE core values. Kris is the epitome of excellence; she has an ongoing and undying commitment to aviation safety and genuine excitement for collaborating with students in the facilitation of their learning process. “Students have so much energy - so much vibrance. They are genuinely excited to be learning. They ask questions.”  

Kris is an asset to our CAE family and we look forward to the opportunity for continued growth and collaboration as we continue to grow in might in the CAE. 


The Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics, Flight Technology concentration was updated to the Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics, Professional Pilot concentration in Fall 2020.  The goal of the Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics, Professional Pilot program is to prepare students to be professional pilots and enable them to qualify for Federal Aviation Administration certificates and ratings required for giving flight and ground instruction and commercial and instrument operations in FAR part 121 air carrier operations or business general aviation. For more information about this program, please visit the Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics, Professional Pilot program website.