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Patti Grace Smith Fellowship Created to Empower Black Aerospace Students

By | October 8, 2020

Patti Grace Smith. Photo: The Patti Grace Smith Fellowship

The Brooke Owens Fellowship revealed Wednesday, through a press release posted to their Twitter account, the introduction of the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship. This fellowship will provide Black undergraduate students with paid summer internships at aerospace companies and nonprofits. Additionally, the fellowship offers both executive-level and near-peer mentorship, a community of like-minded Black students and professionals, and cash grants of $1,000 to go towards work or school expenses.

The program is a spin-off of the Brooke Owens Fellowship, which makes strides to improve gender equality in the aerospace industry. The Patti Grace Smith Fellowship was founded by two-time astronaut B. Alvin Drew, Jr. (Col., U.S. Air Force, Ret.), undergraduate student and Brooke Owens Fellowship alumna Khristian Jones, aerospace engineer Tiffany R. Lockett, and aerospace executive Will Pomerantz.

The Patti Grace Smith Fellowship was named after Patti Grace Smith, an aerospace industry leader who worked to overcome a system of legalized racial segregation, as she eventually ran the Federal Aviation Administration‘s (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation.

“The statistics show clearly that Black people can be extremely successful in aerospace — but also that the industry needs to do a much better job of attracting, training, promoting, and retaining African-Americans,” said Col. Alvin Drew, one of only five African-Americans to conduct a spacewalk. “There are too many Black students who are ready, capable, and willing to do the work but who still are not receiving the same opportunities and the same guidance as their peers of other races. Through the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship, we are excited to give those students a real chance, and a real community. With the unbeatable caliber of the employers we have signed up, the incredible mentors in our community, and the inspiring example of people like Patti, we can begin to make a real difference in these lives and in the industry.”

Students can apply for the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship through Nov. 15. The program is open to all students who identify as Black, who are seeking their first job in aerospace, and who are in their first two years of any Bachelor’s Degree or any year of an Associate’s Degree program – regardless of gender, age, major, university, or nationality. The program offers positions in engineering, science, public relations, policy, and more.