A scholarship, then straight to the sky

August 24, 2021

Categories: Community

Local student Terri Erdmann on graduation day

A local graduate hops into the pilot seat to take control of her dream after wrapping up senior year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Terri Erdmann, 18, graduated from Collège Sturgeon Heights Collegiate among the Class of 2021. During the walk-through graduation ceremony, she was wonderfully surprised to learn she had been chosen to receive Winnipeg Airports Authority’s Queen Elizabeth II Aviation Scholarship.

“I thought ‘No way! That’s not possible!’,” said Erdmann. “I was so shocked and so happy because any little bit helps. I just felt so accomplished and proud of myself that I got something I had worked so hard for.”

An active member in the community, at school and a passionate participant in the Air Cadets, many of the opportunities Erdmann wished to pursue over the past two years, such as a glider training program, were put on hold amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the unprecedented time, her commitment to aviation didn’t waiver. If anything, the time to reflect during the pandemic only further crystallized what path she wanted to take and her intended approach. 

“I’m going to use the scholarship to help get my private pilot’s license,” said Erdmann, who’s been training throughout the summer to earn her certification. “This is something I’ve wanted to do since I was 13 years old, so after I graduated, I said I was going to stop dreaming about it and go do it.”

With plenty of ambition and having already put the scholarship to good use, she also mapped out a bigger picture for the fall at the University of Manitoba. Erdmann says she is planning to obtain a bachelor’s degree in physical geography, with a specialization in atmospheric sciences. Afterwards, she’s aiming to pursue her helicopter’s license with a goal of becoming a commercial helicopter pilot.

“When you are flying, you are constantly having to think and use your hands at the same time,” said Erdmann. “It’s a very dynamic job. I want that kind of challenge to always have to think. You are always engaged with multiple parts of your body — both the mind and your hands moving.” 

Erdmann’s passion for aviation was first sparked five years ago when her mom encouraged her to join the Air Cadets. It didn’t take long for her to fall in love with the field as she was excited to learn less common information not everyone knew. While being part of the squadron, she also enrolled in the aviation program at Collège Sturgeon Heights Collegiate. Erdmann registered for every course she could, enjoying meteorology the most, and was impressed by the opportunities as well as how much she learned throughout the program. The extensive studies, her background with the Air Cadets and using the scholarship to chase down a personal dream has now left her feeling motivated and energized for what lies ahead.

“I’m excited,” said Erdmann. “I feel like I’m right on track as to where I want to be, studying what I want to be studying and I definitely feel I’m on the right path right now.”

Congratulations to Terri Erdmann on being selected as this year’s recipient of the WAA Queen Elizabeth II Aviation Scholarship. The annual award is set up in perpetuity with St. James-Assiniboia School Division through the St. James Scholarship Foundation to help support and inspire the next generation in aviation.


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