Growing up on or near military bases, Autumn Rider always had an affinity for airplanes.
“I remember seeing the Blue Angels when I was 7 and it was so exciting,” she said. “Something about airplanes has always intrigued me.”
Her father worked his way up in the Navy from aviation storekeeper to officer. She thought she would follow him into military service but was turned away because of a medical condition.
As a student in the Aerospace Administration and Operations program at OSU-Tulsa, Rider is forging a different path in a male-dominated career field.
“I absolutely think that there’s room for women in aviation,” she said. “I was talking to this guy who said, ‘I commend you for being in aviation as a woman. Women have always had the smarts, but the industry is just now realizing it.”
In 2016, Rider decided to resume college and complete a bachelor’s degree after 15 years working in finance and accounting.
“I was a little apprehensive at first because it had been a decade since I had attended Tulsa Community College. But I decided I was up for the challenge,” she said. “Now I feel like I belong here.”
She is also keenly attuned to the message she is sending to her three daughters about hard work and determination.
“I am always aware of the example I am setting for my girls. I want them to know it’s never too late,” she said. “If I can do it, anybody can do it.”
In fact, she is flourishing. She is a member of the President’s Leadership Society, an elite invitation-only group of high-performing OSU-Tulsa students. She also plans to obtain her master’s degree at OSU-Tulsa.
Her experience in accounting, business and finance dove-tails perfectly with her chosen degree program and her love of airplanes. Rider is looking to enter the finance, leasing and trading sector of the field.
“I’ve always had an affinity for OSU,” Rider said. “So when I came to talk to an advisor, I knew immediately this was what I want to do – aviation management.”
Since Tulsa is an aerospace town with well-paying jobs in the field, Rider is excited about her future in the state’s second-largest economic sector.
“I realized that times and circumstances change, but my education, no one can ever take that away from me,” Rider said.