An Air Force JROTC cadet has become the first African-American high school student to earn a private pilot license in the state of Delaware.
Cadet Moriah Graham, a senior at Polytech High School in Woodside said she started dreaming about flying since middle school.
“The Polytech flight program was a dream of mine since the 7th grade,” she said. “For five years, obtaining my private pilot license was a goal of mine and for four of those five years it was something that was a sort of fantasy, until I started ground school my junior year.”
The start of ground school, she said, is when reality started to “sink in,” knowing that the path ahead of her would not be easy, but would be worth it.
“Through many trials and tribulations, I was able to make it,” said Graham. “There were many obstacles in my way and quite frankly, there were times when even I did not think that I would make it. However, I reminded myself that I have people who love and support me no matter if I stumble or even fall a few times.”
One of those supporting her was retired Air Force Lt. Col. Ray Ott, the senior aerospace science instructor at the school’s JROTC unit, DE-931.
“Her accomplishment is representative of the immense talent the youth of our country possess and those who participate in Air Force JROTC,” said Ott. “She is truly a great young American marked with determination and resiliency. Moriah set a goal, finished a mission and fulfilled a dream.”
Graham said that Ott “believed in me, and that I could do this even when I didn’t even believe in myself. I reminded myself that I have a goal to accomplish, and I will not rest until it is achieved.”
The high school student received her private pilot license on May 28, 2015, and encourages other young ladies like her to never give up in the pursuit of their goals.
“I achieved this goal, and in doing so it showed me that through hard work, dedication, tenacity, perseverance and the help of God, anything and everything is possible,” said Graham. “I completed this flight program not just for my license but to show other little girls who look just like me that they should never let anyone deter them from their dreams, because dreams can always be made true if you try hard enough. That is what the flight program has done for me.”
Including Graham, Polytech High School now has five AFJROTC cadets who have all earned their private pilot license this year. The other cadets are James Maier, Jonathan Hesterman, Liz Judge and Steven Sanchez.
“Air Force JROTC is truly an impactful program for cadets, schools and communities across the U.S. and overseas,” said Ott. “With 889 schools participating in the program and close to 2,000 retired Air Force high school instructors, the 58 percent minority program with 38 percent female participation truly changes lives.”
Source: Maxwell AF