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DEI Spotlight Events - March 2022

Own Your Airspace: Navigating the Turbulence of Uncharted Territory

Amelia Rose Earhart

A DEI Spotlight Event Featuring Amelia Rose Earhart

“Stop trying to be related to Amelia Earhart and relate to Amelia Earhart.”

That was the advice Amelia Rose Earhart received from a mentor at one of the lowest points of her life. Named after the famed female aviator who, in 1937, famously attempted to fly around the world and, subsequently, disappeared, Amelia Rose Earhart had always felt a desire to live up to her namesake.

In an event sponsored by the Office of DEI and the Loudoun Campus, Amelia Rose Earhart visited NOVA on Tuesday, March 15, and spoke to a crowded room about the expectations she placed on herself when she first learned about Amelia Earhart, and how those expectations pushed her to places – good and bad – that she never expected.

With such a distinctive name, it was perhaps inevitable for Amelia Rose Earhart to develop a curiosity about flying, and that curiosity was sated when she took her first flight lesson. She quickly realized, the moment that the plane’s wheels left the runway, a sense that she almost belonged in the air, and the problems she’d experienced seemed mundane. Those flying lessons continued until she’d earned her pilot’s license, and then a bigger challenge came into focus. She wanted to fly around the world.

This was, of course, also directly inspired by her shared name. More than that, she’d always been told that she and Amelia Earhart shared a familial relation. To confirm this, she hired a genealogist who did some research and told her that she did, in fact, share a familial connection with Amelia Earhart. Spurred by that knowledge, Amelia Rose Earhart began earnestly planning her trip, charting the course, and fundraising nearly two million dollars from organizations eager to support her effort.

Her attempt began to attract national attention, which culminated in an appearance on The Today Show in 2014, where she talked about her effort and her relation to Amelia Earhart. However, unexpectedly, she received backlash for this claim…and was then blindsided by a colleague who had done his own research and announced, on the news, that her claim was invalid. This led to, as she termed it, one of the earliest “cancellations” in social media, with horrific messages and accusations constantly leveled at her.

To quell this backlash, she hired another genealogist to investigate the relation, and this genealogist confirmed that her colleague was correct – she was not related to the famed aviator. Amelia Rose Earhart was crushed.

But that’s when her colleague told her the words at the beginning of this recap, and she made a decision to continue with her attempt. Her sponsors stayed by her side and, after months of intense training and planning, Amelia Rose Earhart achieved her dream of traveling around the world and following Amelia Earhart’s path in a single-engine plane.

Now, in addition to public speaking engagements and flying, Amelia Rose Earhart runs the Fly With Amelia Foundation, an organization which sends numerous teenage girls to flight school. As her namesake once famously said, she flies for “the women who may want to fly tomorrow’s planes.”

The event was recorded and is available to view. To watch a recording of this event (NOTE: this recording is only available for enrolled students and NOVA faculty and staff), visit https://online.nvcc.edu/videoservices/. Click Academic Resources, then SSO Login, log in, and scroll down to DEI-Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

NOVA's Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is committed to advancing Inclusive Excellence and improving the well-being and success of all NOVA students, faculty, staff and the greater community. The Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion works in collaboration with all aspects of the college community to elevate the acceptance of different ideas, values, beliefs, abilities and perspectives while also advancing equity as aligned with the College's Mission and Strategic Plan and helping to create and sustain a more inclusive and accepting college community.

DEI Spotlight Events are held monthly. For information about other programs by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, please visit https://www.nvcc.edu/diversity, or contact Dr. Nathan Carter at nacarter@nvcc.edu.