Local graduate to combine passions with help of workforce scholarship


Karolyn Marquez Garcia already knew she wanted to become a pilot when she decided to combine that career with one in meteorology, as well.

The Battle Ground Character and Academics for the Marketplace (CAM) Academy and the Cascadia Technical Academy will soon get a lift parlaying both those interests into a single career with a WAVE Scholarship from the Washington Workforce Board.

Marquez Garcia is one of 121 recipients of the Washington Award for Vocational Excellence (WAVE) Scholarship from the Washington Workforce Board who earned up to $6,768 per year, for two years. She will be attending the University of Washington for its meteorology program while utilizing the pilot program at the Green River College in Auburn at the same time.

“Aviation and aerospace are one of many industries across the state that face a skilled worker shortage,” Workforce Board communications manager Andrew Lenderman said.

Being a recipient of the scholarship lifted some weight off of Marquez Garcia’s shoulders.

“It was a big relief,” Marquez Garcia said. “Honestly, I was kind of worried about how I was going to pay for some of my expenses, So I was pretty happy winning it.”

She added that she is still deciding whether the funds will go to the meteorology or the flight training pathways.

Marquez Garcia said she hopes to take those two separate career paths and turn them into one with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“I want to fly for them,” she said. “I really started developing a love for weather with flying. I knew I was wanting to become a pilot.”

She said her dream of taking flight has only been a recent goal after she enrolled in a local aviation program two years ago.

“I was enjoying my flight training and then I just started seeing how weather affected everything, how it affected flight and how it could affect your daily life without you even really knowing,” Marquez Garcia said. “Then I did my research, and I found that NOAA actually hires pilots to fly for them, and I really wanted to become a hurricane hunter after hearing what they did. You know, baby steps to get there, but that’s my life-long goal right there.”

Marquez Garcia explained her love for weather developed while studying air temperatures, wind and more at her flight school. She added that experiencing turbulence and flying in different weather contributed.

“You wouldn’t expect any turbulence flying underneath clouds,” she said. “They definitely do. It gets pretty shaky. I say the fluffier they are, the more dangerous they are.”

Marquez Garcia said her eventual goal of flying for the NOAA goes beyond her own enjoyment.

“I realized how much I would be doing for my community if I did go down this path,” she said. “Not only will I give my love for science and meteorology, but also [I] will be helping the people that are most affected by these types of weather storms by gathering data and putting myself at risk. Who doesn’t enjoy a little adventure in their job.”

Sen. Ann Rivers, Washington State 18th Legislative District, highly supports the Washington Workforce Board’s WAVE Scholarship and Marquez Garcia’s passions.

“I always support funding for the Workforce Board because it does such a great job of connecting kids with opportunities,” Rivers stated in an email. “I’m also a huge fan of CTE and absolutely delighted that a WAVE Scholarship will help Karolyn pursue her dream. What great news!”

WAVE helps undergraduate students pay for tuition and other costs at Washington colleges, universities and private career schools. Career and technical education students from Washington high schools and public community and technical colleges are eligible to apply. The program is funded by the state Legislature.

Lenderman said traditionally the application portal opens in January and runs through March. To learn more, visit wtb.wa.gov.