Meghan Werkman is an extraordinary young lady. Her dad is a pilot and she dreamed of following in his footsteps. From a young age, she knew that she wanted to “have a job where she could travel the world on someone else’s dollar.” By age 18, Werkman already had her pilot’s license. “Flying was a way for me to escape reality and go to a place of peace and tranquility.”
Originally from Winston-Salem, N.C., Werkman attended Mount Tabor High School and graduated in 2005 from Guilford Technical Community College with a degree in aviation management. However, her job has taken her a long way from home as she currently resides in Denver, Colo., where she works as a product manager for Jeppesen – an aviation company that specializes in aeronautical charters, flight planning and aviation operations.
In 2008, Werkman joined Jeppesen in Hilton Head, S.C. as an international flight planner, providing long-range flight planning for national and international business trips utilizing corporate jets. By 2011, she transferred to Jeppesen’s Denver location as an account manager for business aviation accounts and later lunged into her current role as product manager in 2014. While working for Jeppesen, she has traveled to Dubai, Germany, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and almost every state in the U.S.
Upon graduating from GTCC, Werkman continued her education at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in professional aeronautics with a double minor in aviation safety and aviation management in 2007. She was part of the first cohort of students to graduate from the Greensboro-based program. At that time, Embry-Riddle had just opened a new worldwide campus center at GTCC’s T.H. Davis Center. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, is a nonprofit, independent institution offering more than 75 baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its colleges of Arts & Sciences, Aviation, Business, Engineering and Security and Intelligence.
She went on at Embry-Riddle to complete a master’s degree in Aeronautical Science with a double specialization in aviation aerospace safety systems and aviation aerospace management while working part time at JetStream as a ramp agent — loading and unloading bags and cleaning airplanes — and later as a full-time customer service manager for aircraft maintenance at Landmark Aviation in Greensboro.
“The fact that Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University was on the GTCC campus made me want to stay in Greensboro and continue my education,” Werkman said. “This partnership opportunity helps to make a quality education more cost-effective and attainable … I was able to work part time and stay at home. It was the key for me to complete my undergraduate degree and then stay to complete my master’s degree.”
“It was a true learning experience. The small class size made a real difference; the instructors were straight from the aviation industry; and I benefited from one-on-one instruction opportunities. The students in the program are there for a reason and have a real passion for the program. They wanted to be there. I was lucky.”
She learned various aspects of aviation including safety, accident investigation, security, intelligence, operations and dispatch.
“The STEM (science, technology, education and math) classes at GTCC gave me a great foundation,” she said. “At Embry-Riddle, I even had a class in business foreign policy, which came in handy when I was routing planes from one foreign country to the next. Overall, the depth and breadth of my educational experience made me an innovative, strategic thinker.”
Werkman originally went to school to become a pilot and wanted to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., but she couldn’t afford the tuition, room and board, and other expenses. She wanted to find the right program at the right price. The prestige and rigor of the GTCC Aviation program appealed to her but what really closed the deal was the college’s affiliation with Embry-Riddle.
While she wanted to become a pilot, the GTCC Aviation program helped her realize that there is much more to the aviation industry than just flying; it offers careers in aviation management, maintenance, safety, manufacturing and electronics – just to name a few.
“I am more successful now than I ever thought I could be,” she said. “I have a real passion for aviation operations and safety, and I like to have something to show for all of the work that I do. I appreciate the depth and breadth of the education I received at Guilford Tech and Embry-Riddle. It is a great education and a phenomenal partnership for the area.”
Guilford Technical Community College is the third largest of 58 institutions in the N.C. Community College System. GTCC serves approximately 45,000 students annually from four major campuses and three specialized centers. Learn more at www.gtcc.edu.
About Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace. The nonprofit, independent institution offers more than 75 baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs. Embry-Riddle educates students at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., through the Worldwide Campus with more than 125 locations in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and through online programs. Learn more at http://www.embryriddle.edu.
— Stan Turbeville