Skip to main content

Highlighting NGPA 2023 Scholarship recipients and their future aspirations through Piedmont

The National Gay Pilots Association celebrated 25 years of scholarships in 2023. These scholarships have provided opportunities for current and aspiring or current LGBTQ+ members and allies of the aviation industry. Piedmont has the privilege of being a sponsor for these awards. It is an honor to see the impact the award recipients have and will continue to make within the aviation industry. June is Pride month and is an important time for our company as we are proud to feature LGBTQ+ members of our community and two of Piedmont’s NGPA scholarship winners, Matthew Koerner and Zachary Miller.

Matthew preparing for his future as a Pilot.
Matthew’s love for aviation started from a young age.

As a young child, Matthew grew up surrounded by influences of the aviation industry. His father, a pilot himself, took him flying in a 152 when he was a kid and he instantly fell in love with everything about planes; from the smell of oil in the air to even the moldy seats. They created countless memories as his father taught him the basics of aviation as they flew around their home state of Michigan.

Since learning to fly, Matthew has accomplished more than 20 years working in corporate spaces and earned his MBA. He has also grown a love for coaching and teaching hoping to use his background and skill set to work as a check airman, then develop into a union or corporate office worker. Matt emphasized how the aviation industry should be grounded by the idea of humanity. “In my career thus far psychological safety and creating spaces where everyone can thrive have been paramount, and driving innovation and culture change is equally as important,” shares Matthew. He highlights how amazing it is to learn to fly, but creating more inclusive workspaces within aviation is even better!

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, a young Matthew felt he would be out of place in a career in aviation and let go of his dream. The feeling of uneasiness began to waver as he aged and, after winning the NGPA scholarship sponsored by Piedmont. Matthew continues to reinforce how proud he was to be recognized by Piedmont and the sense of belonging he’s gained since reflecting, “Everyone I’ve met and shook hands with has been not only warm but encouraging and asked me (before I could ask them) how they can make things easier or help me along the way.”

For the second NGPA Piedmont winner, Zach, aviation also “runs in his blood”. He is the first of his family to chase a career in aviation but remembers the spark he felt when his grandparents took him to the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh show at 4 years old.  He has been in love with the field since.

Zach in his aviation journey.
Zach on his aviation journey.

Zach has channeled his love for aviation into a bachelor’s degree in aviation management with a minor in communications from Florida Institute of Technology. As he has gotten older, he has realized that he also has a passion for making a difference in people’s lives. With both of his interests in mind, he seeks to pursue a career in Airline Operations and Planning. This will allow him to focus on both aviation and customer service on a global scale. He dreams of creating policies and proposals that allow for everyone to feel welcomed and valued.

Winning the scholarship reinforced these ideas within Zach. He felt appreciated for both the work he has completed and his future accomplishments. The recognition he has received by Piedmont and the NGPA fortified a feeling of responsibility to use his talents and make positive impacts within the aviation community. He highlights how important it is for companies to sponsor groups like the NGPA.

Congratulations to both Matthew and Zach for their accomplishments and being this year’s 2023 NGPA – Piedmont sponsored Scholarship recipients. 2024 Applications are currently open until June 30 and interested applicants can apply here and find detailed information about eligibility criteria, required documentation and the selection process