After five years in the Coast Guard, Jamie Heiam knew she wanted a four-year college degree that would propel her into a career and wouldn’t let her end up working in a coffee shop.
“I love to travel, and I was intrigued by aviation,” says Jamie, who had an international childhood thanks to the mobility of her father’s job. “Vermont Tech’s pilot program offers a college degree, which is important to me – and when I visited the campus, I knew I was in the right place. The people here are incredibly open, the aviation group is a tight-knit community, and I will have the skills and expertise I want by the time I graduate.”
After being in the program at Vermont Tech, Jamie is passionate about the incorporation of hands-on learning. “We’ve been going up in planes from day one,” she explains, “but it’s more than that. For example, I am helping rebuild and restore a Piper Cub floatplane. Reading about a plane’s structure, fabric covering and engine isn’t the same as getting your hands on the plane itself and seeing the pieces and parts. We’re going to fly this plane when we finish, and I’ll know exactly how the machinery works.”
Jamie, who would like to see more women get involved in aviation, plans to relocate to Minnesota after graduation and work for the U.S. Forest Service. She first learned of the opportunity when Vermont Tech sent her to the Women in Aviation Conference in Florida. “Forest Service pilots have different tasks depending on where they are,” she says, “but I expect to be fighting forest fires and helping with search and rescue missions. I am in love with flying – and I’m excited about where this is leading.”
Jamie has recently received an offer to complete international surveillance and reconnaissance work in a Cessna 208 which she says is “beyond a dream of mine.”
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