Cajun Scholarship Winner #4
Growing up at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Ricardo Miller discovered his passion for aviation at a young age. “One of my earliest childhood memories is being awoken late at night by the rumblings of aircraft engines as they flew over my home.” Ricardo said. “As I laid awake in my bed that night, I dreamed of what it was like to be one of those pilots.”
Young Ricardo’s aviation fascination grew with afternoons watching the Navy Blue Angels practice with his mother and countless inspiring Air Force stories told by his father. “The stories I heard only furthered my desire to fly.” This desire, coupled with hard work and determination, gained Ricardo a slot in the aviation department at one of Florida’s elite STEM universities, the Florida Institute of Technology. Ricardo turned his dreams into reality in April of 2021; “After years of rigorous work and devotion, I am privileged to be one of the few who can call themselves a pilot.”
“The Cajun Scholarship has connected me with some incredible people in aviation who are passionate and dedicated to what they do. As the son of an Airman, I am honored to receive a scholarship memorializing a great Airman whose legacy has left a lasting impact on the aviation world.”
In September 2022, Ricardo was selected as the 4th scholar of the Stephen “Cajun” Del Bagno Memorial Scholarship. The Cajun Scholarship was established in 2018 by the National Air Sea and Space Foundation in partnership with the Florida Institute of Technology with the support of the Del Bagno family. Honoring fallen Thunderbird pilot Major Stephen “Cajun” Del Bagno, it was created in his memory to help aspiring young pilots achieve greatness in aviation. Just as Cajun did. “The Cajun Scholarship has connected me with some incredible people in aviation who are passionate and dedicated to what they do. As the son of an Airman, I am honored to receive a scholarship memorializing a great Airman whose legacy has left a lasting impact on the aviation world,” Ricardo said.
As Ricardo completes his Bachelors in Aeronautical Science at the Florida Institute of Technology, he is one of the more than 500 aspiring aviators in the flight department. Now working towards his single-engine commercial add-on at FIT Aivation, he has a number of goals set for 2023: graduation in May, earn his Certified Flight Instructor certificate, and begin teaching others what he loves to do most, fly. Ultimately, Ricardo strives to fly for an airline and continue inspiring others along the way.
“Flying has pushed me to overcome adversities, drive for personal improvement, and develop into a young professional. The awe that aviation inspired in me long ago is just as fresh as it was then, and my marvel with aviation continues to be why I want to fly.”