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More than 90 middle and high school students in Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties will get the experience of a lifetime this summer at Pensacola’s National Flight Academy. Local entrepreneurs Quint and Rishy Studer have donated 98 deployment spaces to the three local counties, amounting to over $100k in scholarships.

Located aboard Naval Air Station Pensacola, the National Flight Academy is designed to address students’ declining science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills through an immersive, six-day aviation-based program. The program takes place aboard the Ambition, a landlocked virtual aircraft carrier. Students live aboard Ambition for six days and experience “theme park-style thrills” while using advanced technology, flight simulators, and virtual reality missions.

“We are so grateful to have the educational resource of the National Flight Academy in Escambia County,” said Rishy Studer. “We are pleased we can offer this great educational experience to deserving local students. To combine a great resource with motivated youth is a win-win partnership.”

“Rishy Studer rightly points out that it is a win-win partnership when we can combine great resources with motivated youth, but it was the efforts by Quint and Rishy that created the opportunity for that to happen,” said retired General Duane Thiessen, president and CEO of the National Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. “One of the most powerful local tools we have available to improve the quality of education for our youth is the collaboration of the school system, the elected leadership and the business community. The Studers are leaders in that regard.”

Superintendents of Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa County School Districts embraced the news.

“The scholarships the Studers are providing for the National Flight Academy will no doubt change the course of study, and possibly even change career choices for many of our Escambia County students,” said Malcolm Thomas, Escambia County Superintendent.

Santa Rosa County Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick agreed. “This experience is a solid complement to our county’s STEM initiatives to drive student learning, transform the classroom and embrace our future through technology.”

“Okaloosa County is thrilled to partner with the National Flight Academy program through the Studer Foundation to send 32 of our students to this exciting program,” said Mary Beth Jackson, Okaloosa County Superintendent. “We thank the Studer Foundation and NFA for this incredible educational opportunity.”

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