Friday, March 6, 2015

Kelly Nelson has been editor of Aviation for Women for just over a year now. We gave Kelly five questions to answer, and here’s what we’ve learned:

How has your first year as AFW editor been?

I have really enjoyed my first year with Women in Aviation, International, getting to know the ins and outs of each issue throughout the year, meeting and working with the regular contributors and columnists, and hearing from the members. It was a year of learning for me.
In September I led my first magazine retreat and enjoyed going over the member feedback we received from our issue surveys and really examining the magazine content with the WAI editorial team. I’m excited with the plans we came up with for 2015, and hope to continue getting great feedback from members so we can continue to produce a “must read” publication.

You’ve won a WAI scholarship in the past. What advice do you have for applying for a WAI scholarship?

Never give up. Pay attention to the details, and take care with your application.
Something that was eye opening to me when I found myself on the other side of the scholarship application scenario was how few people sometimes applied for a scholarship. Your application could be one of only a handful, increasing your odds more than you may realize.
Of course, if your application isn’t in tip-top shape, the odds may still not be in your favor. Take care with your application, be thoughtful with your essay, personalize the application to the scholarship you are applying for wherever possible. That may mean different letters of recommendation if you are applying for two scholarships, or different essays or version of an essay. You need to demonstrate to the scholarship committee that you are right for their particular scholarship, and they may not see it if it’s clear your essay and letters are “one size fits all.”

And, of course, try, try again! If there’s something you really want, don’t hesitate to apply a second year if you don’t get it the first. You may have been the committee’s second choice this year. Next year, they’ll remember you when they see your application and will likely read with interest to discover all that you’ve done in the meantime.

If a member has an idea for an article in AFW, what should they do?

I’m always looking for great ideas! Feature stories I consider on a case-by-case basis and my decision usually involves our need for content, the overall mix of content for each issue and over the course of the year, and the quality of the writing. I want to tell WAI member stories more than anything else and will often want to know if the story subject is a member.

We also have two important sections that can only be supported by member-submitted content: Where Are They Now? and In Our Own Words. Where Are They Now? features stories by past scholarship winners detailing what they were able to accomplish through the WAI scholarship program and the things that they learned in the process. I really enjoy reading these because it shows the varied backgrounds of our scholarship winners, as well as the immense potential a simple scholarship can provide. As a past scholarship winner myself, I never cease to be amazed at the variety doors these opportunities can open for people. In Our Own Words pieces are short essays that share a unique experience and may or may not have a lesson learned or take away.
In any case, I love hearing from members. Letters to the editor letting me know how you felt about an article or sharing your thoughts about aviation current events, news about your recent accomplishments, even just ideas for things you’d like to see in the magazine—they’re all worth shooting me an email ( about. My contact info is in every issue and online as well!

 What’s the best part of a WAI Conference for you?

That’s hard to say! I only have one under my belt on staff and, even though I was far busier last year than any other, I think the people and connections are still top on my list. I am not a super outgoing person by nature, but I do really enjoy meeting new people and reconnecting with them at the conference year after year.

If you were to describe the WAI Conference in one word, what would it be?

Benefits of a WAI Membership

WAI members seek to inspire and stand for encouragement, continued education, and a whole lot of fun! If you’re a lover of all things aviation and aerospace, and enjoy sharing your passion with others, we’d love to have you! Membership includes job search opportunities, scholarship opportunities, access to mentors in your industry, and much more.

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