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Women in Aviation International has named Manuela Morales the 2020 recipient of the Delta Air Lines Engineering Scholarship. The $5,000 award is given annually to a member of WAI who also majors in aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering or electrical engineering.

This award has a lot of meaning for Morales, who is a member of Delta’s co-op program. She has been a long-time admirer of the company and its work culture, and hopes to earn a full-time position at Delta after she graduates. She said that when she received notification of the award, she was speechless.

“It is an out of this world feeling when a company you admire recognizes you,” Morales said. “My dad was a commercial pilot most of his life and this achievement is something that made him and the rest of my family very proud as well.”

As the scholarship winner, Morales was invited to attend the 31st annual WAI conference in Orlando. The event offered great opportunity for professional development, including a career fair and lectures from the secretary of the U.S. Air Force, the vice president of global affairs for Boeing, and the first female commander of a space shuttle, to name a few. Morales also networked with Delta employees, which she said renewed her passion for the airline industry.

Morales learned how to network and present herself professionally through her membership in the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers, which she cites as a source of both personal and professional growth during her time at UCF. She also credits her professors, specifically Lecturer Marino Nader, Associate Professor Seetha Raghavan and Assistant Professor Kareem Ahmed for inspiring her to go after opportunities such as this scholarship.

“I have had the luck to meet professors who have inspired me to ask questions and knock every door of opportunity I can,” Morales said. “It is through their passion in teaching and their research that I have been inspired to do more.”