Year in Review

Year In Review: Summer 2020 – Spring 2021

This has been the most challenging year of my academic career. This has definitely been a unique and informative year, as we have been living in “unprecedented times” and I am grateful to be vaccinated. I began my year at OSU during the summer semester because I needed to withdraw from the previous semester due to a family emergency. I lost my mother and was responsible for planning her funeral during the previous spring just as COVID and quarantine began, which placed a lot of stress on myself and my family. I enrolled in the summer semester in order to continue my flight lab and stay on my academic schedule, but the transition to online classes in combination with the new COVID restrictions presented numerous challenges during the entire year, and especially during the summer. COVID definitely forced me to revise my plans for the year, and I was unable to accomplish quite as much as I originally aspired to in terms of my flight schedule and travel.

Online classes were a learning curve, as I prefer to learn in person within the lecture format, as it allows for immediate discussion and response, and creates a structure that personally prevents me from becoming distracted or procrastinating assignments. Despite the increase in distractions and procrastination that online classes presented, and the challenges that COVID presented, I was able to accomplish a 4.0 during the fall and spring semesters, and a 3.9 during the summer. I maintained my position on the Dean’s List while enrolled in challenging upper division, honors, and aviation courses. Three courses that I found informative and significant were Geography 2400, which focused on social and economic geography and Geography 5200/5210, which focused on cartography and GIS systems. This year has taught me patience and creativity, as it was necessary for me to adapt my lifestyle to the new restrictions from COVID, especially during the last spring during quarantine.

The highlight of my year would have to be completing my first solo in preparation for my private pilot license single engine land privileges, where I was able to fly as pilot in command of a Cessna 172 in and out of KOSU airport. I completed my stage check, my oral exam, and knowledge test for the Private Pilot Flight Lab I in order to fly solo in the airplane. Additionally, I enjoyed working with the Children’s Defense Fund on multiple occasions during the year, which I have outlined in the “Artifacts” section of my e-portfolio, as I was able to contribute to solving an issue in our country which is near and dear to me, which is youth homelessness and poverty,  and how it affects housing and education. In terms of this summer, I intend to complete a full semester and to continue with my flight training, while also beginning my research and continuing contributing to the eminence service project

[ “Year in Review”  is where you should reflect on the past year and show how you have evolved as a person and as a student.  You may want to focus on your growth in a particular area (as a leader, scholar, researcher, etc.) or you may want to talk about your overall experience over the past year.  For more guidance on using your ePortfolio, including questions and prompts that will help you get started, please visit the Honors & Scholars ePortfolio course in Carmen. To get answers to specific questions, please email Delete these instructions and add your own post.]


Global Awareness: Through a combination of coursework, language exploration, and academic study abroad, I plan to expand my knowledge of the Spanish language and cultures, and my awareness of various cultures, governments, and societies around the world. The course “History 1681”, which focused on World History, has taught me about the interconnectedness of the cultures, ideas, religions, societies, and governments of the world, and the globalized nature of growth, expansion, and advancement. The course “Geography 2400”, which focused on economic and social geography, has taught me about the increasingly important effects of globalization on the economies, cultures, politics, and societies of the world,  as it has created vast economic inequalities that place millions at a disadvantage and in positions of vulnerability and exploitation. Previously, I completed three years of Spanish coursework at my high school, which taught me the fundamentals of the Spanish language and enlightened me on various Spanish cultures around the world. Additionally, I plan to complete further Spanish language coursework and a study abroad in Spain in order to strengthen and expand my involvement in and knowledge of the Spanish language and the unique and interesting culture of Spain.


Original Inquiry: I plan for my research at OSU to focus on the long-term mental, psychological, behavioral, social effects caused by the experiences of poverty and homelessness in children and adolescents and how these effects pose challenges to them in their adulthood and change their beliefs and behaviors. Mostly, I would like to focus on the loss of childhood that poor and homeless youth tend to experience, as they are forced by their circumstances to adapt into early maturity and take on the roles of adulthood, as society has failed to protect them.


Academic Enrichment:  The honors curriculum for arts and sciences requires rigorous coursework and numerous upper division courses, which has formulated a well-rounded, challenging, and informative experience for myself. Before entering OSU, I completed 50 hours of coursework at The Ohio State University, and I have maintained my position on the Dean’s list at OSU each semester. In addition to my Arts and Sciences Bachelor’s Degree in Air Transportation, I will be completing a Professional Pilot Certification, RATP, and hopefully a double honors major. I will be completing aviation flight labs as part of my Professional Pilot Certification, which will earn me my Private, Commercial, and Flight Instructor Certificates with single engine land privileges. I will be completing additional aviation courses as part of earning my Restricted ATP Certifying Document, which will reduce my flight hour requirements for the Airline Transport Pilot’s License by 500 hours. My courses have focused on aviation, social sciences, and physical, social, and economic geography.


Leadership Development: Due to the numerous difficulties I have faced, I am passionate about the issues of youth homelessness and have been heavily involved in spreading awareness of the issues, proposing solutions, and working with the legislature on the issues. I wrote and delivered a TEDx Talk titled “Love and the American Dream” about my personal experiences with homelessness and poverty in order to inform the American public regarding the difficult and encompassing challenges faced by homeless and poor youth in America. In order to to inform policymakers and to inspire legislative change, I spoke on a panel for the Children’s Defense Fund webinar about the youth housing crisis as part of the Ohio’s Legislative Children’s Caucus, working with legislators to solve the current challenges facing homeless youth. Additionally, I spoke at the 2019 Beat the Odds Celebration, and on live Spectrum TV on the disadvantages that the disabled, poor, and homeless face in public and higher education, as well as a separate interview on Spectrum News about the challenges of intergenerational poverty. Over the summer, as part of Beat the Odds, I gave a speech for the Ohio Children’s Defense Fund: Lift Every Voice for Children event about the challenges faced by homeless and poor youth in America, advocating for improved education for homeless youth.


Service Engagement: Over the summer, when we were still planning on building community gardens, I got in touch with an old mentor of mine named Mary Nally, who was the director of the Community Food Initiative Non-Profit that built school and community gardens and promoted food security, in order to share information on how they began. Over the fall, I have been more active in the service project, attending the majority of the meetings and participating in the discussions and decisions, and completing the action items. When we were questioning our choice to build community gardens and were planning a transition to a consulting model, I conducted the “Consulting Research” so that we would understand what that new model would look like and how it would operate. I compiled information about various consulting student organizations and nonprofits in the U.S., which provided ideas on how to make a consulting model successful with the resources we are granted by being part of a university, and some of these ideas were/are planned to be implemented in our model. I was one of the two people who conducted research on how to become a non-profit, as we preferred this approach, rather than a student organization; while we have put this plan on the backburner for now, this information will be useful when we decide to actively apply to become a non-profit. Over the Spring, I participated in the Franklin Manor Project and attended and contributed to the meetings. As part of the Franklin Manor Project, I wrote and revised the Franklin Manor Survey, which was designed as the main planning document to collect information about the preferences of the residents regarding garden design, structure, and involvement. The garden is currently still in its planning stages, and will be structured while implementing the information gained through the survey.


LinkedIn Profile: (46) Asia McKenzie | LinkedIn

Handshake Profile: Asia McKenzie | The Ohio State University | Handshake (

Resume: McKenzie_Aviation Resume_Spring 2021

Cover Letter:Eminence Cover Letter

[“Career” is where you can collect information about your experiences and skills that will apply to your future career.  Like your resume, this is information that will evolve over time and should be continually updated.  For more guidance on using your ePortfolio, including questions and prompts that will help you get started, please visit the Honors & Scholars ePortfolio course in Carmen. To get answers to specific questions, please email Delete these instructions and add your own post.]


Panel Member for the COHHIO Legislative Strategy and Budget Process, 2020

On October  5th, 2020 I spoke at a webinar with the Advocacy Director for COHHIO (Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio), Gina Wilt, about youth homelessness and the housing crises. She reached out to me after the CDF Children’s Caucus to further discuss my ideas on common-sense housing and homelessness policy proposals and ideas in order to formulate the COHHIO’s legislative strategy in preparation for Ohio’s budget process.

We discussed the topics I presented in the Ohio Legislative Children’s Caucus Webinar, which can be found in Ohio Legislative Children’s Caucus Webinar.


Speech at Children Defense Fund’s “Lift Every Voice for Children” Fall Benefit, 2020

On September 16th, 2020 I spoke at the 2020 Beat the Odds “Lift Every Voice for Children” event advocating for improved education for homeless youth. Information about the benefit can be found at Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio Fall Benefit: Lift Every Voice for Children! – Children’s Defense Fund Ohio ( A video recording of my speech can be found at Review Link – September 28, 2020 –


Expert Panel Member for the Ohio Legislative Children’s Caucus Webinar on “Safe, Decent, and Affordable Housing is Fundamental to the Health and Prosperity of Ohio’s Children and Families”, 2020

On June 19th, 2020 I spoke as an expert on a panel for the Children’s Defense Fund webinar about the youth housing crisis as part of Ohio’s Legislative Children’s Caucus, working with legislators to solve the current challenges facing homeless youth. Information about the Caucus can be found at Safe, Decent, and Affordable Housing is Fundamental to the Health and Prosperity of Ohio’s Children and Families – Children’s Defense Fund Ohio ( A copy of my speech can be found at Ohio Legislative Children’s Caucus Webinar.

My main contributions to the Caucasus are the programmatic items to consider, which are (quoted from the linked website): 

  • More programs are needed that allow unaccompanied minors under the age of 18 to access their services and resources.
  • Stipends to those experiencing homelessness are currently too low for many to obtain decent quality housing and afford utilities in the current market.
  • Placing restrictions on access to housing assistance and services based on prior evictions or criminal convictions only exacerbates the problem and does not help those most in need.
  • Application processes and their required steps should be designed in a way they can be clearly understood by as many types of people as possible. When designing programs to provide housing or support for the homeless, consider providing transportation, assistance for the disabled during the application process, and assistance with access to technology when necessary.


TEDx Talk “Love and the American Dream”, 2019

On October 5th, 2019 I gave a TEDx Talk titled “Love and the American Dream” about youth poverty and homelessness. A video of the talk can be found at (1) Love and the American Dream | Asia McKenzie | TEDxStroudsRun – YouTube.


Intergenerational Poverty Spectrum News Interview, 2019

On August 14th, 2019 I gave an interview on spectrum news about the challenges of intergenerational poverty, which can be found at Scholarship Winner Hopes to Break Generational Poverty Cycle (


Speech and Spectrum News Interview on the Disadvantages the disabled, poor, and homeless face in Education, 2019.

On June 20th 2019 I spoke at the 2019 Beat the Odds Celebration, and gave a live tv interview on spectrum news, on the disadvantages the disabled, poor, and homeless face in education. Information about the event can be found at Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio 2019 Beat the Odds Celebration | Columbus Underground. A copy of my speech can be found at Beat the Odds 2019 Remarks.  


Beat the Odds Interview about my Personal Experiences with Poverty and Homelessness, 2019

On July 26th, 2019 I gave an interview for the Beat the Odds 2019 Celebration and Benefit about my experiences with poverty and homelessness. A video of my interview can be found at (1) Asia’s Story (2019 BTO Honoree) – YouTube. Information about the interview can be found at Beat the Odds Program – Children’s Defense Fund Ohio (


[Artifacts are the items you consider to be representative of your academic interests and achievements. For each entry, include both an artifact and a detailed annotation.  An annotation includes both a description of the artifact and a reflection on why it is important to you, what you learned, and what it means for your next steps.  For more guidance on using your ePortfolio, including questions and prompts that will help you get started, please visit the Honors & Scholars ePortfolio course in Carmen. To get answers to specific questions, please email Delete these instructions and add your own post.]

About Me



My name is Asia McKenzie. I am 20 years old and I grew up in Athens OH, where I attended Ohio University through College Credit Plus for two years. I am currently a student at The Ohio State University earning a Bachelor of Arts in Air Transportation with a Private Pilot Specialization in the College of Arts and Sciences. I am able to do so because I earned numerous scholarships including OSU’s most prominent scholarship: called the Eminence Fellowship, as well as the nationally recognized Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship and the OSU Engineering Dean’s Scholarship; I am a Dell Scholar, a Children’s Defense Fund Beat the Odds Scholar, a Horatio-Alger Scholar, and a Carson Scholar.  I aspire to work as an aerial firefighter for the National Parks Service, and to volunteer for aviation medical transport.

When I was 16, my family and I became homeless, and many of my family members still struggle with stable and clean housing; the only reason that I am able to maintain stable housing is because of the scholarships that have supported my education. When I first became homeless, in order to continue my education, I remained in Athens, Ohio to take dual enrollment classes at Ohio University. I  spent the majority of those last two years living away from my family, renting rooms in the city, while working part-time. For six months, I lived in a shelter with my mother, and for a few weeks, my father lived in a tent in the woods.

I would say the issue I am most passionate about is the issue of poverty and homelessness in the U.S. and around the world. With a degree in aviation, I aspire to have a successful career, full of significant promotions and achievements. Through my economic success, I want to build stability for myself and for my homeless family, and eventually work towards helping others in unfortunate situations build economic stability. Throughout and after my education, I hope to achieve and improve my skill set, knowledge, character, and experience to make changes in the world involving social issues, especially poverty. I will use my education to help other youth suffering from poverty and homelessness realize their potential and their opportunities for higher education. Once I enter the workforce and have beat homelessness, I will use my experience and knowledge to spread information about the causes and effects of poverty in order to end stereotypes, while also working to encourage universities, governments, and communities to change the ways that they approach the issue of poverty and to reflect on what they can do to help those suffering under homelessness and poverty. For the majority of my life, I will use my education and career to ensure that no one is denied the basic necessities and opportunities of life.

My experiences throughout my life have shaped who I am today and my aspirations in my career, research, volunteering, and in life. Because my past has been a constant struggle with poverty and homelessness, I have been taught to persevere, adapt, and always speak out about my experiences and knowledge in order to enact change. Through my past, I have learned of the challenges that the poor, homeless (especially the youth), and the disabled face in modern America and of how American society and capitalism places value on people based off of what they produce to be consumed and profited off of. Because of this knowledge, my determination to achieve higher education, help provide stability for my family and myself, and for others in the U.S. and around the world has been constant and unwavering. I am a first-generation college student, as I enjoy breaking down barriers and never shy away from a challenge in my life.

I plan on regularly volunteering for medical transportation by airplane once I earn my license, in order to help the poor, disabled, ill, and those without means. Because my family and I are poor, we constantly struggle to find reliable transportation anywhere, including the hospital, and it was one of the reasons that lead to the exacerbation of my mother’s health problems and death, so I am deeply passionate about assisting others with medical transportation; I want to ensure that poverty does not lead to debilitating illnesses, injuries, or death. Everyone should already have access to equal transportation, and I want to contribute meaningfully to this effort in the U.S. and perhaps one day, internationally.

Most importantly, I will continue to work with and inform the legislature of the challenges that the poor and homeless face and the possible solutions to their problems through the Ohio Children’s Defense Fund. As a poor and homeless person, I always felt ignored by and hidden from the rest of American society, and I believe that we are a forgotten piece of American society. In my experience, people are often ignorant of the specific and significant challenges that the poor, homeless, and disabled face; through my speeches, talks, and involvement, I hope to spread knowledge about these issues, and especially how they affect the youth and how the difficulties can be exacerbated when these issues overlap with one another. Often, when I tell people about the difficulties I faced growing up, they can’t accept such a reality in a wealthy, developed country like the U.S. People simply don’t know how challenging it is to be poor and homeless, and the systematic governmental, educational, medical, etc. barriers that we face on a day-to-day basis. I want to inform people so that others in America who are still facing these challenges feel as if the society around them cares about them and their difficulties, and most importantly, acknowledges that they exist.

Because I value freedom so I highly, I aspire to be a pilot. I have always been passionate about the field of transportation, as growing up poor I couldn’t go anywhere, leaving me with a constant feeling of being trapped in one place. Because of my experiences, I understand the pivotal role that transportation, and lack of access to it, can play in a person’s life. I never want to be trapped in a single place again, so I am training to be a pilot, which gives me the freedom that poverty and homelessness have denied me. Additionally, piloting is a male-dominated field; I have a love of challenge and breaking down barriers because my experiences have taught me that my life is never going to be easy, so I might as well make it exciting and embrace the challenges and the privilege of knocking down walls

Because I value altruism so highly, I aspire to become an aerial firefighter for the National Park Service in order to help people in a substantial way on a daily basis and to assist with conservation efforts. Through the challenges I have faced, I have become an adaptable and levelheaded person, with the ability to function and complete high-level, involved tasks while under constant stress and anxiety in high-risk situations. I developed those qualities while poor and homeless working towards my education and surviving on my own from a young age; I had to function in my education and work, while worrying about attaining basic necessities, meaning that stress, anxiety, and high risks characterized my adolescence. I have become accustomed to not having a safe or stable life, forced to constantly adapt to new challenges and problems in order to create solutions and plans in order to survive and obtain the privilege of higher education; therefore, I feel suited to a career like aerial firefighting, where I will be in stressful environments, requiring me to remain calm and levelheaded, while thinking quickly to solve significant problems.