Four students were awarded the John Volk Scholarship this year —Julian Brown who graduated from Friday Harbor High School, Isabella Davis, who graduated from Springstreet International School, both in 2019, and Arlo Harold and Levi Doenges who graduate this year. Each will receive $4,000 to stretch their wings and soar further their education.
“These kids are amazing. Just look at what they have done during their short time on the planet,” Bob Tauscher, member of the San Juan Island Pilots Association, said.
Brown and Davis were winners of the Volk scholarship last year as well.
Tauscher, along with Dennis Willows and Richard Shorette, served on the pilots association scholarship committee, and the judges unanimously agreed upon the recipients.
The scholarship is named after John Volk, who was an island pilot and emergency medical services volunteer, according to Tauscher. Volk was an early “Eagles Pilot” and frequently flew patients off-island for medical treatment. The scholarship was founded by the San Juan Island Pilots Association after Volk passed away in 2006, Tauscher said. Island pilots and others who know Volk wanted to do something to remember and honor him. To reflect the qualities Volk was known for, friendship, leadership and community service, the scholarship qualifications focus on students with a passion for aviation with the desire to pursue a career in a flight-related field, who also gives back to the community, Tauscher explained.
Two of the recipients this year, Brown and Harold, participated in Friday Harbor High School’s aerospace team, which won the International Space Settlement World Finals Competition in July 2019. Harold was the team leader and Brown as the main structural engineer.
“Through my involvement with the FHHS Aerospace team, I found that effective technical and verbal communication is paramount when working with team members from all over the globe,” Brown said, adding that he also learned the importance of working together as a team, and compromising to create the most effective design.
Gathered at the National Aeronautic and Space Administration Kennedy Space Center’s Center for Space Education, the playoff teams only had a few days to come up with a design. This meant the teams spent two all-nighters to finish their proposals.
Brown is currently majoring in mechanical engineering at Santa Clara University in California and is interested in designing cutting edge technology in aviation, designing mechanical systems for jetliners and other large aircraft.
“My interests in aviation lie in the refinement of cutting edge technology in the pursuit of efficiency and safety. I would like to pursue a career in aviation with the interest of creating aircraft technology that can be used to transport goods and people with ease in a manner that has a minimal environmental impact” Brown explained.
For Brown, the Volk scholarship will allow him to continue his education. He noted that the aeronautic industry helps society because flight technology plays a key role in multiple ways. During emergency services aircraft can access remote locations and provide assistance in situations where time is of the essence. Aviation also connects the world and provides people with the opportunity to travel and experience the cultural diversity this world has to offer, Brown added.
Davis is attending Wellesley in Massachusetts, majoring in physics and astronomy. She hopes to follow the footsteps of American engineer and astronaut Christina Koch, who spent 328 in space, setting the record for a female astronaut in space. Davis’ career dream is to become an aeronautical engineer, repairing satellites, as well as participating in projects to enhance space exploration.
The other two recipients graduate this year— Harold graduate from Friday Harbor High on June 6, and Doenges graduates from Spring Street International, June 12.
Doenges is currently a member of the San Juan Island Pilots Association and hopes to become a commercial airline pilot. Harold will be attending the University of Arizona next fall, and while he does not have a specific career path picked, given his passion for aviation, it will be most likely connected to flight.
Due to the isolated nature of island life, flight is an important part of San Juan County’s culture, according to Tauscher.
“Our mail, UPS, almost everything comes by air except our groceries,” Tauscher explained.
Tauscher realized immediately after moving to the islands in the ‘90s that taking the ferry every day to get to his off-island business, was not feasible. At the age of 52, he got his pilot’s license in order to commute.
Tauscher encouraged anyone graduates with an interest in aviation to apply. Some students have become pilots locally, he added, working for Kenmore, for example. There are many resources available, he said, such as joining the pilots association or participating in the school’s aerospace program, which Tauscher credits to the high number of scholarship winners this year.
“This scholarship and the generosity this community has shown towards me and other FHHS graduates is remarkable,” Brown said. “I am truly grateful for the faith this community has in its youth. The support that our community provides for students is incredible and I hope that one day I can pay this generosity forward to the next generation of aspiring students. Those who help provide this support help turn dreams into reality.”