Impact Award + Convocation Speaker, Fall 2021
Rachael Shantz comes from a family of aviators — her dad is a pilot, her uncle is a flight instructor, and even some of her cousins are aviators.
Shantz decided to embrace her family’s legacy in the air traffic management program at Arizona State University because ASU’s Polytechnic campus is close to home and it’s one of only a few institutions that offers an air traffic control program.
“ASU was the only place in the world that made sense for me; all of the pieces just fit together seamlessly,” Shantz says.
Shortly after joining ASU, Shantz became heavily involved in various extracurricular opportunities. She worked as the lead outreach and recruitment assistant for the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU and as an undergraduate teaching assistant for the air traffic control tower simulator. She also took on a grading role for ASU’s aviation department and served as the president of Fulton Ambassadors.
Of all the activities Shantz did during her undergraduate experience, the highlight was a virtual event she coordinated to honor women in aviation: “An Evening with Women in Aviation.”
“I selected the all-female panel, structured the event and invited thousands of high school students and teachers,” Shantz says. “I am so proud that I had the opportunity to blend my experience in recruitment and outreach with my love and passion for the aviation industry.”
One of Shantz’s key motivators in coordinating this event relates to a surprising fact that only 17% of air traffic controllers are women, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
“I am hopeful that ‘An Evening with Women in Aviation’ showed at least one female student that she can pursue aviation if she wants to,” Shantz says.
Giving her the confidence she needed to pursue her dreams in a male-dominated industry was John Delugt, a lecturer for the aviation programs.
“He pushed me to achieve my goals both academically and professionally and never made me feel that I was incapable of pursuing this line of work,” Shantz says.
Following graduation, Shantz will continue her education in the aviation management and human factors graduate program as part of a 4+1 accelerated master’s degree.
“My ultimate goal is to be a successful air traffic controller, maybe at one of the busiest airports in the world,” she says. “Beyond that, I am passionate about diversifying the aviation industry and making this path easier for the women who come after me, just as the women before me did.”