KSU Program Caters Specifically To Women
by ANN Correspondent Aleta Vinas
With a Bachelor of Science degree in
Aviation Maintenance Technology from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical
University... a Master of Science degree in Aviation Management and
Aviation Safety from an ERAU extended campus... four years as a
Marine avionics mechanic... and more than 14 years as a mechanic
for United Airlines, Raylene Alexander is eminently qualified to
start an Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) Mentorship Program for
Alexander (right) teaches at Kansas State, where after two
years in the making her program is ready to start the "pilot" stage
for one semester, with the support of KSU. "We’ll start small
and then we’ll build." Alexander promised.
Keeping the initial run small will allow for evaluation and
revision by Alexander and her advisory board, Karen Sullivan, Kelly
McNamara, Mary Alice Rice and Rebekah Lawrence. The hope is to open
the improved (if necessary) program to other schools in the fall of
Mentor and mentee each have detailed questionnaires to complete.
They must also meet a large list of qualifications before being
approved. This is to allow for creating the best match based on
career goals, common interests and hopefully geographic
One of the primary points of the extensive Mission Statement is,
"the Women A&P Mentoring Program is designed to help women
A&P students to successfully move into the aviation field."
Alexander noticed many students "had anxiety about the real
world versus school." Additionally, she was concerned about the
high drop out rate of the women in the maintenance program. With
mentorship, perhaps these concerns could be turned around.
In addition to helping the students into the real world, the
program seeks to teach networking skills, build sponsorships to
allow students to attend events like Women in Aviation Conferences,
and offer scholarships or help locate available scholarships and
grants. Alexander realizes the importance of attending shows like
WAI and networking.
Alexander didn’t attend her first WAI conference until
after she had been with United Airlines for 10 years. To make
things worse, she knew nothing about networking. Alexander lamented
"I had to call my mother and get advice from her because I had
never networked before in my life."
Alexander has a solid plan which she hopes will lead to success
but no so rigid that change is disallowed. Much of her future
success, after the pilot phase, will be dependent upon female
A&P’s contacting Alexander to become a mentor.