Kent State Hosts Aviation Camp for Female High School Students

Program introduces young women to aviation careers

Program introduces young women to aviation careers

Area female high school students and their mothers spent time together while also learning about aviation and science-related fields at a special overnight aviation camp held at Kent State University. The university’s Aeronautics Division held its fourth Nikki Kukwa Memorial Aviation Camp on Thursday, July 19, through Saturday, July 21.

“About 20 students and mothers participated in this academic outreach and residential program that introduces young women to the many career opportunities available in aviation and space,” says I. Richmond Nettey, Ph.D., associate dean of Kent State’s College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology (formerly known as the College of Technology). “This is an exceptional opportunity for these young women who are interested in aviation. There is no cost for participation in the camp; however, the selection process is highly competitive.”

Throughout the program, participants resided in the Honors College complex on the Kent Campus. The aviation camp included touring Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and its air traffic control tower, participating in simulation exercises in Kent State’s Air Traffic Control Center located in Van Deusen Hall and taking orientation flights in Kent State aircraft with university flight instructors at the Kent State University Airport.

The camp concluded with a closing luncheon on at the Kent Student Center. The keynote speaker was Jeanette Graselli Brown, retired director of corporate research for BP America. In addition to participants receiving certificates for completing the aviation camp, the Nikki Kukwa Endowed Scholarship for Women in Aeronautics was awarded to three recipients. The scholarship was established by the parents of Nicole “Nikki” Marie Kukwa of North Royalton, Ohio, in honorable memory of their daughter.

Kukwa was an instrument rated pilot who was an honors student in Kent State’s aeronautics program from fall 2002 until her passing on Oct. 23, 2006, from leukemia in her junior year. In addition to being a scholarship recipient from North Royalton High School and Catholic Youth Organization, Kukwa was a member of the National Honor Society in 2000-2002 and the 2003-2004 winner of the Miss Royalton Pageant.

As a flight student in Kent State’s aeronautics program, Kukwa distinguished herself by retaining a coveted place on the Dean’s List throughout her undergraduate studies and by serving as president of the Kent State chapter of Alpha Eta Rho and as a founding member of the Kent State chapter of the Women in Aviation, International, also known as the “Flying Black Squirrels.” Kukwa served the aeronautics program as a dispatcher and as a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety counselor for Kent State. She also served the local aviation community as a certified weather observer at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

The Nikki Kukwa Memorial Aviation Camp is organized by the Kukwa family and Kent State’s College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology in partnership with the International Women’s Air and Space Museum (IWASM). The aviation camp is supported by donations from multiple individuals and businesses, including Hal Shevers, founder of Sportsman’s Market, Inc. of Batavia, Ohio, and proceeds from the Nikki Kukwa Memorial Golf Outing that was held June 8 at Rose’s Run Golf Course in Stow, Ohio.

For more information about Kent State’s College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology and the Aeronautics Division, visit

POSTED: Monday, July 30, 2012 12:00 AM
Updated: Saturday, December 3, 2022 01:02 AM
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