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Since Horace Hunter was 5 years old, he has dreamed of taking off one day as a pilot. On Dec. 15, 2017, he landed at his graduation with a bachelor’s degree in aviation, professional flight with a minor in aerospace management.

The Lexington native addressed the College of Business and Technology at Eastern Kentucky University as the student commencement speaker. After thanking the faculty, staff, and administration of EKU for their hard work and dedication, he imparted three “tidbits of wisdom” to his fellow graduates.

First, Hunter referenced a common pilot proverb: “No two landings are the same.” Just as pilots must be vigilant of outside conditions when landing, he asserted that he and his fellow graduates must be equally adaptable in their own lives. “Change is something that happens every second of every day,” he said. “Our level of success is dependent on whether we adapt to it, or sit back and let it happen before our eyes.”

Despite how we dreaded them as children, Hunter’s second tip maintained that “napping is necessary.” His advice was not an endorsement of laziness, but of balance and self-care. “There is a very finite list of things that every single one of us in this room have been given equally. The most important thing on that list is time,” Hunter shared. “It may sometimes seem as if we don’t have enough of it, but I’ve learned that if you strategically place your naptimes, you’ll get the assignment in by 11:59.”

This time management strategy seemed to serve Hunter well. During his time at EKU, he earned the Rodney Gross Scholarship, a 3.5 GPA, and a coveted internship with the Ward-Kraft flight department. He also served as the fundraising chair for Alpha Eta Rho, the aviation academic fraternity, and completed his certificates and ratings faster than any other student in EKU history.

For Hunter’s final piece of advice, he implored his audience to “learn to play the game.” Experience outside a classroom, says Hunter, can be vital to success. He thanked the university and his instructors for giving him such opportunities: “Leave it to EKU to have a team of truly dedicated, and experienced professors who care about preparing us for industry success.”

He credits one of those professors, Joe Marthaler, for providing him an opportunity to interview for some sought-after internships. “These internships and resources that only EKU could provide (like the Rodney Gross scholarship) gave me the experience that no other university could,” said Hunter.

Hunter seems to be playing the game admirably. After being pursued by many airlines as a potential pilot, he accepted a position at PSA Airlines, a subsidiary of American Airlines.

“The path we take from this day forward will not be dictated by what’s written on our diploma, but rather how you play the game in your arena,” Hunter said, echoing his  third tip. He concluded by reminding his audience of the first and second: “In my experience here at EKU, you’ll get the competitive edge if you treat every ‘landing’ like a new one, and take a nap or two along the way.”

— by Madison Harris, student writer, EKU Communications & Brand Management