By Sue Moore
For 90 years the Vicksburg Ladies Library Auxiliary has invited the girls from the high school senior class to a tea at the library. Sadly, the tea will not go on for another 90. Officers of the association have decided it might not be as relevant anymore.
“There are so many events going on at this time of the year in seniors lives,” Sue Opalewski said. “We’ve had trouble scheduling the tea the last few years, plus it takes the young women out of school just when they most need to be present to finish up graduation requirements. There were 55 out of the 80 senior girls in attendance.”
The speaker for the day, Kenzie Pridgion, ended the tradition with words of wisdom culled from her own experiences growing up in Schoolcraft and becoming an aviator. “The race is long and in the end it’s only with yourself. Oh, and don’t forget to wear sunglasses!”
After graduating from Schoolcraft High School in 1999, Pridgion headed to Western Michigan University where she said she majored in “socialization” her first two years while still wanting to be an aviator. After she got serious about her major and graduated, she became a flight instructor, then took a job with a regional airline, Com Air, based at JFK airport in New York. “Commuting was hard but the flight benefits outweighed it as I got to travel the world,” she said. Then she was furloughed and had to cast about for the next job. She decided upon the military. The competition was highly competitive and challenging in the Michigan Air National Guard where she flew a C-47.
She now is flying for Stryker Corporation, one of its 10 pilots and its first female pilot. She is still training students on the MQ9 remotely-piloted aircraft in Battle Creek for the Air National Guard, which Stryker supports, she said.
“Don’t expect things to be handed to you. College doesn’t define you, it shapes you personally. You don’t always have to be the best, but you have to give your best,” she cautioned the audience. “Attitude and desire will carry you a long way.”