A lifelong passion for aviation led Matthew Wakefield to Henderson's flight program

Matthew Wakefield

Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am Matthew Wakefield from Mountain View, Arkansas. I graduated from Mountain View High School in 2018 and enlisted in the Arkansas Air National Guard as a C-130 aircraft mechanic.

Are you a first-generation college student

Yes, I am the first in my family to attend college.

What inspired you to choose a degree in aviation?

A lifelong passion for all things aviation led me to pursue becoming a professional pilot through Henderson State University.

Why did you choose Henderson to pursue your degree?

My choice to attend HSU was easy to make seeing as it is the only school in Arkansas to offer this unique and prestigious aviation degree.

What has been your favorite class so far, and why?

My favorite class has been Introduction to Aeronautics I & II. If you’re passionate about aircraft and aviation, nothing compares to getting hands-on with them and learning the basic principles of flight.

Is there a professor who has had a significant impact on your college experience?

Cody Unruh, the assistant chief flight instructor, has been an exceptional teacher. Mr. Unruh holds a passion for aviation that all aspiring pilots should share, and seeing that exemplified in the dedication that Mr. Unruh has for his students will foster a desire to excel at his classes.

Are you involved in any clubs, organizations, or extracurricular activities on campus?

I am involved in the horticulture club which has been working to renovate Henderson’s amazing greenhouse and bring some life to the flower beds around campus.

What advice would you give to incoming students to make the most of their experience at Henderson State?

The most significant piece of advice I could give to an incoming aviation major is to never forget why you’re here. All of us had a reason for why we wanted to follow such a difficult career path and it’s that reason which will get you through the difficulties.

Is there anything you wish you had known when you first started college?

I wish I had known the importance of connecting with my peers. A career in aviation is also a brotherhood. Your classmates want you to excel as much as they want to.

What are your career aspirations or plans after graduation?

After graduating, I plan to be a commercial long-haul pilot. My dream has always been to travel to as many places as possible and collect once-in-a-lifetime experiences along the way.

Please share something intriguing about yourself that many people don’t know.

I have climbed the Mount of the Holy Cross in Colorado, which is a 14,000-foot mountain summit considered to be a highly-challenging route.