Blogs  |  11.12.2020

Alumni Profile: Brianna Bentley

Name: Brianna Bentley

Profession: Procurement Specialist, Northrop Grumman

Education: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University:

Bachelor’s Degree in Business management

Master of Business Administration in Aviation degree (MBAA)

Which of our Challenger Centers did you visit?

Challenger Learning Center in Hazard, Kentucky.

When did you visit the visit a Challenger Learning Center?

6th grade (2006)

What do you remember most from your experience?

The Space Missions. I remember walking into the control room and feeling completely overwhelmed, nervous, and excited all at the same time. I dreamed about going to the Space Center from the time I was in 3rd grade and I actually begged my teacher to consider me for the pilot spot. The thought of piloting a Space Craft was incredible to me and I was almost positive that one of the boys in my class was going to get the piloting position, but I was the lucky one!

Have you always been interested in STEM?

I have not. I was not interested in STEM until I visited the Challenger Learning center.

Did the visit to the Challenger Learning Center affect your decision to pursue a STEM degree or career? If yes, how?

Absolutely. I am a very hands on learner and I never had the confidence to pursue a STEM degree or to be a pilot. My visit to the Challenger Center really opened my eyes to so many opportunities and showed me that I am capable of so many things. After completing our Space Mission that day, I walked out of the Challenger learning Center with so much inspiration, motivation and confidence. It really changed the course of my life.

Do you use STEM lessons/principles in your job every day? If so, how?

I don’t necessarily use STEM lessons/principles in my every day job, but I do use them when I fly! After my visit to the Challenger Learning Center, I knew I wanted to be a pilot. When I turned 16 years old, I found a flight instructor at my local airport and by 17, I was a certified Private Pilot. Aviation has brought so many great opportunities to my life – I have traveled to over 16 different countries, I flew a small aircraft from Oshkosh, Wisconsin to Soldotna, Alaska and I now live on a small seaplane base in central Florida where I can park Seaplanes in my backyard!

Why is STEM education so critical at a young age?

STEM education is so critical at a young age because it shows kids how exciting and fun STEM fields can be. I had no desire to learn anything about math or physics until I stepped into that control room.

What advice would you give to students who want to pursue STEM degrees or careers?

I would first tell students to start looking for scholarships. I was a recruiter at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and I was amazed at how many STEM scholarships are available to students and how young you can actually start applying and earning these scholarships.

In one sentence, how would you describe your Challenger Learning Center experience?

My Challenger Learning Center experience completely changed the course of my life and opened up so many opportunities.

Why should people support Challenger Learning Center’s STEM programs?

People should support the Challenger Learning Center STEM programs because at the end of the day, they are investing into the future of our society. STEM research is crucial and the Challenger Learning Center is a starting point for so many intelligent students. The Challenger Learning Center has the potential to help young minds discover what they are truly passionate about and capable of.