CD: Hello, my name is Christopher Doll and I am the library director at theUniversity of Dubuque Charles C. Myers library. The date is November 20th and the time is 9:24. Can you please tell me your name and spell it for the record?
JK: My name is Joan Kariuki. Joan--J-O-A-N, Kariuki--. K-A-R-I-U-K-I.
CD: And your story is a little bit unique from other people that we'veinterviewed, but can you let us know when you graduated and from what program you graduated from the University of Dubuque?
JK: I graduated from the University of Dubuque in 2016 with my MBA so that is aMaster's in Business Administration.
CD: Alright. So let's get started. We'll take you back to your childhood tobegin with so we can get a little bit of a sense of who you are and your upbringing. Can you tell me a little bit about your childhood and your hometown?
JK: Let's start with my hometown. I grew up in Nairobi, Kenya which has about 31:00million people and is the capital of Kenya. I grew up really close to downtown. I remember walking to school every day which was about 20-30 minutes but it was okay, crossing major highways but that was part of life. I grew up in a house that was all females so a single mother with two older sisters. It was some good and some bad times some rough times sometimes, but we made due. My mom was very good with her hands everything that broke in the house she would fix or attempt to fix, somehow things got fixed. I remember we had one of those landlines, a radio phone, it kept breaking all the time. She would open it up hit a couple valves, use a screw drive to do something and magically the land line was back 2:00on. We had a black and white TV that would do the same thing, like it would break, she would open it up, she didn't know what she was doing, but all of sudden it was fixed. I got a little bit of my know-how using my hands and just trying to get things working again from my mother.
CD: Alright. We are going to get to it. Your story as I eluded to is a littlebit unique. Do you remember what first sparked your interest in aviation?
JK: Actually I do. When I was about 8 or 9 years old I used to be a girl scoutback home. I had an opportunity to go to a scouting jamboree in Norway. So I remember going home when this was presented to me in school I remember going home and asking my mother whether I could participate. It would be me getting on a flight, the first person in my family, going through a whole completely different country by myself. Again, I'm the baby here and it's like there is no way my mother would have allowed her baby to go out of the country by herself. I 3:00expected the answer to be no, but when I posed the question she just said yes. And that was it. She said yes she jumped shipped she was there. She bought everything that needed to be bought. She did all the ground work, like she attended all the meetings and she was there at the airport and she just made sure that I had a really good time. So yeah, it was my first international flight out of the country with a bunch of other girl scouts, it wasn't necessarily segregated, with a bunch of other scouts. First flight out of the country. It was back in the day before 9/11 where they allowed people to visit the cockpit. So because there was a lot of scouts on the plane the flight attendants were really good so they kept keeping us in rotation going to talk to the pilots so to keep us entertained so I remember that. I remember being up on the flight deck talking to the pilots, looking outside the window, looking up at the cockpit seeing all the buttons and circuit breakers everything and then realizing that I really liked this office. I really like this experience. 4:00
CD: So at that time were you thinking someday I would love to fly or were youthinking someday I would love to fix all these broken buttons if they break at one point?
JK: I was thinking that someday I would like to fly. That was my only point inaviation. That's all everybody talks about is being a pilot. So I was thinking that someday I would like to fly. But after that experience I completely forgot about aviation.
CD: Okay, so it was in one ear out the other so to speak.
CD: So growing up you've already mentioned your mother and if you'd like you cansay more stories or if there is no one else. Do you have any other role models that kind of inspired you growing up?
JK: I would say basically my family. My mother especially she was the one who5:00held the family together and my sisters. I am always trying to be like them. I am always trying to be as good as them. I can give you a couple stories. My mom, again like I mentioned, was a single mother, raised three daughters on her own. My eldest sister was the first one that I know of in my family to go to college. My second sister followed suit and obviously as the baby I really wanted to be like my sisters and followed suit. Just recently a couple of years ago my mom retired. She never had an opportunity to go to college herself she went straight from high school into the work force and she had us. So when she retired she realized that something that she always wanted to do was go to school. So about a month ago she graduated with her masters in psychology.
JK: I know. One day I asked her why did you go back to school? She said, it wassomething I always wanted to do. What are you going to do with your degree? She was like nothing I just want to have it. I just wanted to do it because it was 6:00something I always told my daughter that they needed to do and it was something that I needed to do. So that's very inspiring.
CD: Our listeners don't know yet but I know where you are in life. We still havea big gap of how you have gotten from a girl scout in a cockpit to where you are now. So you also mentioned that you went to college so where did you go to school and what did you major in?
JK: I went to Western Michigan University which is in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Imajored in aviation maintenance technology which is a degree program that helps you get you're A&P which is your airframe and pilots license Powerplant license excuse me. Which basically means I fix planes for a living.
CD: So what made you want to do that? Did you decide, Oh Kalamazoo looks great Iwant to go there in the winter you went to school there and then you heard about 7:00the program and hey I'll enroll in this or did you hear about the program first? What took you there?
JK: So when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to with my life right afterhigh school again I was exposed to aviation really early and then I wasn't exposed to it again for a really long time then I remembered my experience as a young girl and I remembered I really liked aviation. So we set out to look for an aviation program that I would enjoy. Initially it was to be a pilot, but it was back in the time when pilots were getting laid off and my mom said that I can't in good conscience send you to be a pilot when you can see that the economy is not doing really well. So we found this program that they were advertising in the newspaper it was a local university that was called Egerton that was having a partnership with Western Michigan University. So you do your first two years at Egerton they mostly advertise aviation and engineering degrees so you do your first two years at Egerton it is much cheaper there so 8:00you get your gen eds. and basic classes done and then you transfer to Western Michigan University and complete your degree. So my mom decided yeah I'll send you there let's try that out. If that doesn't work out you can easily transfer your credits to a local university. So we did that and I really liked the program and they had the aviation maintenance technology I was like yeah and she was like yeah I will allow you to do this. I really enjoyed the classes so I ended up again doing this. I had been tinkering all my life sitting right next to her watching her do stuff so it was not a big deal.
CD: If you don't want to date yourself I guess you don't have to but you weretalking about a time when there was fear that pilots were going to get laid off so when was this, what time was this, what year?
JK: Oh wow, when did I graduate from high school? I think it was 2010, again I9:00think it was just a small recession. Yes, there was a small recession, but you could still really, really feel it and my mom again was really worried about that.
CD: Correct my pronunciation, I'll probably get it wrong, but is it Ingeton?
CD: Egerton. And actually can you spell that?
JK: Egerton University E-G-E-R-T-O-N
CD: Alright, so when you went from there to Western Michigan was there a biglearning curve? Was it a seamless transition? What were some of your first experiences? Did you think that the school work was great? Did you think the snow was awesome? What were some of your memories?
JK: Well, surprisingly I had seen snow before. I had experienced a winter. Iwent to Germany one Christmas to visit my sister, she went to school there. So I 10:00had experienced at least two weeks of winter, but I hadn't experienced a whole season of winter and I remember when I first got to Kalamazoo it wasn't that cold there was a really big Kenyan community like I mentioned it was a transfer program so I wasn't by myself. So there was a lot of Kenyan's there so it felt homely so anything I didn't know there was always someone there who could help me figure it out. But the winter was rough and I got really sick. I got the flu for the first time I had no idea what the flu was but I remember I had to wake up and go to school every day and I would sit in the classroom and I wouldn't understand what was going on, but I knew I had to be there.
CD: How was the school work? Pretty fun? Was it what you expected? Or was it a11:00lot of hands on?
JK: Truth be told I didn't know what I expected. I wasn't quite sure whataviation maintenance technology was. I thought it was more of an engineering program without it being an engineering program. But, I was pleasantly surprised when it wasn't.
CD: Oh, Okay. Well I think a lot of people listening don't know what it is sowhat is it?
JK: So it's again it's where you get you're A/P license which helps you whichtrains you to be an aircraft technician. You can get a license in two years but what they have done is spread it out to be a four year degree so you end up with your degree as well. So then there are other extra classes that you need. So it is mostly classes and a lot of lab. A lot of lab work where you are using hands on learning how to fix planes. They had a lot of donated bits and pieces. They had engines, they had a FedEx plane that was donated when I was there. We had a 12:00152 that would always break apart and be put back together. There was so much stuff there it was just amazing to be there and like I said I didn't know what I was expecting but I really appreciated being there. Besides what I learned which was how to be an aircraft mechanic, I also learned some business classes that I didn't have to be a mechanic if I didn't want to I could easily use my knowledge and work in an office and be able to help the mechanics transcribe the paper work and basically sit in an office and do paper work, but I really, really enjoy using my hands.
CD: So a lot of times when think aviation, they think pilots. A lot of timeswhen people think aviation they think males. But here you are a female mechanic in your program, were there a lot of other females taking that program with you at Western Michigan? Were they taking apart the B-52's with you? 13:00
JK: If I remember correctly we had what was it? There were four females in myclass me included in a class of about 20 and our class had the highest number of females. So, and I can't necessarily tell you what they do today. I know a lot of people once they graduated did not seat for the FAA exams to get their license. It just wasn't the females it was the males and most of them did not end up with that license in their hands. I decided to take the license. I already had the knowledge I'm like why not it's something I'll need. It's just another added bonus, so just hold on to the license and see what the future has to hold. And when I started looking for a job right after graduation. When my first job was at a very big facility working on big jets I realized, I keep saying this I really do enjoy working with my hands and figuring stuff out. 14:00
CD: So where did you go after you graduated? What big company were you referencing?
JK: I worked for AAR. It is an international company it is known as an MRO amaintenance, repair and overhaul facility which basically means that it is not necessarily an airline they just have hangers and they work for different airlines doing the maintenance work for them so different companies outsource their maintenance to a company like AAR. We do anything from small or they did anything from small checks which would be like one week inspections to D checks which would be major one to two month inspections where they gut the whole plane, they gut everything, inspect everything and then put everything back together.
CD: Where was this located?
JK: This was located up in Duluth, Minnesota.
CD: I go to Duluth like two or three times a year and I never knew that existed.
JK: It's the airport right across from--.
CD: I have actually flown in to the airport quite a few times, but I never knewthat existed.
JK: It's the big hanger that used to be Northwest it is off to the side. It isthe big hanger off to the side by itself. I'm sure you have seen it. 15:00
CD: Yeah I just didn't know what they did. So what was your favorite part ofthat job? Other than looking at Lake Superior every day.
JK: It really did have a really good view of the lake. I lived up on the hill sothat was really awesome. I think the best thing about the job was the experience and the people I got to meet. People I worked with I didn't know what to expect of this facility. You think my class ratio was bad the facility had about at most 10 females that worked there in a facility of about one hundred plus people in general. So I remember when I first got there I was really intimidated by all these people with all this experience but you'd be surprise these people were so 16:00willing, so eager to teach you just to pass on the knowledge because they know someone need to pick up the mantle after that. So they don't care who you are as long as you are willing to be there and are willing to work. They will take you under their wings and show you everything you need to know.
CD: That is really good to hear. This job sounds awesome but you're not in itanymore. So where did you transition to next?
JK: So after that, I wanted to go back to school and do my MBA, which issomething I've always wanted to get, so I moved on to here, UD.
CD: So how did you find out about the University of Dubuque?
JK: So for the story, I was in Florida for a Women in Aviation conference. Ithink that year I had won about 2 or 3 scholarships. And I was there and I realized this would be the best opportunity to figure out what aviation schools are out there so that I'm not far removed from Aviation even though I wanted to 17:00do my MBA. And I happened to come across a university called the University of Dubuque. I spoke to them, and I think it was Bob that mentioned if I came here I would have the opportunity to still be in aviation and still work with planes, work near planes, work around planes and he said all the right words. I was sold.
CD: So did you come for a campus visit or did you just sign up and and hope forthe good.
JK: I just signed up. And I came for orientation and I saw the University thatway. But yeah, technically I just signed up. Because everybody else I spoke to weren't quite as forthcoming and as willing with information. They didn't sell the university. They didn't make me feel comfortable. Yes, yes they're selling the program, they're saying all these keywords, but it's all like just skimming through the top. Bob actually mentioned names, he even I think he even tried to call James at some point, or somebody in the aviation program for me to talk to. 18:00
JK: Yeah. So he really really sold the university, and sold the community.
CD: So do you remember your first impression of. Well we'll start with Dubuque.Do you remember your first impression of Dubuque as a, as a city
JK: Let's see. Coming off the bridge in Wisconsin, looking across theMississippi looking at this town, I was like "oh it kind of looks like Duluth." Just a little bit less hilly but you can see that hill, and you can see the water and I'm like huh, I think I might like it here
CD: Yeah I can see that
CD: Do you remember you first impression of the University of Dubuque?
JK: I do not
JK: I was here for about 2 days. I was in a hurry and I had to go back.
JK: And grab some more stuff, so yeah I really don't remember my firstimpression of the University of Dubuque
CD: Although you were an MBA student, do you remember your first impression ofthe Dubuque airport? Did you want to get out there right away and take a look at 19:00it? Or?
JK: Actually I did get out there within a week or two being here. I had aninterview with James Jenkins, who is now my boss. And he's, he's very talkative. I remember we spent 2 hours together, and he talked, he spoke for most of that time. But then again it's part of that community, where they are selling the university to you, they're making you feel comfortable. And he's very good at doing that. And I realized yeah, I would I would really like to be here and work here. And he, he tried to get me a job with the other maintenance facility that's out at the airport, Blue Skies Over Dubuque, that the university does a lot of its business with. And he sent me down there and he told me to go talk to 20:00those guys and see what my impressions are. So again, he was already, he was already, telling me that oh yeah, I'm here and I'm willing to help you be better so that you're not only helping the university but your also helping yourself.
CD: So, I'd like to talk a little bit about your experience in the MBA program.What type of classes did you take? Do you remember?
JK: A lot of business classes, a little marketing classes, a little finance classes.
CD: Where there any instructors that that stood out that that you can rememberthat that helped show you anything significant?
JK: I remember David Birkett. We're still friends to this day. He was oneinstructor that I really enjoyed his classes. I really enjoyed the way he talks. I really like him as a person too, so. Yeah
CD: So while you were getting your MBA did you have a lot of opportunities tostill be a part of the aviation program or were, were you just kind of busy with 21:00your schoolwork?
JK: So while I was getting my MBA I did a work-study out at the airport. So yes,I was around planes all of the time. Just helping as, as, as they needed me to.
CD: So what did they have you do for your work-study?
JK: There was a lot of washing planes. There a lot of lot of washing the planes,and moving them from here to there. And an interesting thing about being out there was that James, again, James realized that I was qualified, I was almost overqualified for what I was doing, but circumstances required me to only work as a work-study. So he had me do other stuff. Like besides just sitting and washing planes he had me write papers. Because he knew I was also doing my MBA so he had me write professional papers on safety, that actually still out at the airport posted at strategic locations in the hangars. Just informational papers 22:00on safety, There was, I think there was one about lead acid batteries, just because that is a product we use a lot we use a lot of batteries. And we have a lot of sulfuric acid around to service the batteries with. So just general information for the work-study to know. just add them to their knowledge, not that they still retain it because most of them are pilots who like 'yeah, it's work, I'll just call a mechanic but" see if you're work-study and you're around this materials around this equipment then you probably need to know what it is you're working with.
CD: Yeah. So. You graduated with your MBA.
CD: What happened next?
JK: When I graduated, after graduation, I was looking for a job again. And theposition that I currently hold at the university, the lady that was there before me, happened to move on to her next stage in life, so there was an opening. 23:00
CD: And what's this position?
JK: Aviation maintenance assistant.
JK: So I didn't hear about it directly. Somebody I was talking to knew somebodywho knew Chaminda. And happened to mention that this position was open so I applied for it, again I knew about the airport I knew about the aviation industry and knew about the people there. So I applied for the job, and I got it. Actually I got a call from Chaminda before I got the job. I remember I applied for it and he called me a, like a day or two afterward and just talked for about 30 minutes about the potential I have and what he would have me do. Again before the application process was through. And when I went to the 24:00interview I had to sit down with Steve Chaminda I mean sorry, Steven Accinelli. Again I wasn't expecting this, we spoke for about half an hour. He was looking at my resume, I don't think he knew that I was that qualified. Again, he had seen me around the airport, right, I was work-study, I was just another work-study
CD: You were washing planes
JK: I'm washing planes! I guess he didn't know that I had my A&P, He didn't knowthat I was doing my MBA. So in the interview he basically told me "if you get the job once you go through the interview with James, if you get the job we'll not only have you working as an A&P for us, but we'll have you helping us teach one or two classes" So then again this was already like added pressure. I haven't even started with the interview and you already have a whole plan set 25:00out for me. I really appreciated that.
CD: So you got the job.JK: Yes, I got the job.
CD: What do you do in that position?
JK: In what position?
CD: We'll start with the, the mechanic. What, With the
JK: A/P mechanics.
JK: So, so as a mechanic at the U of D I basically help them maintain thefreight of aircrafts. So we not only schedule maintenance but we also perform some of the maintenance on the planes and always make sure everything is airworthy and safe for the students.
CD: Is there any particular moment or time that sticks out to you or, you know,I don't know if you worked on this, but didn't somebody hit a bird like, a year ago, and did you guys have to fix that, or, was, or do catastrophes like that 26:00happen and then you have to get in there, and--
JK: Which bird?
CD: So did they hit birds often?
JK: The birds are on the plane. I think the one you're really thinking about wasthe big plane we have in there, the executive transporter to Cheyenne that hit a bird and made a big dent.
CD: Yeah. Did you have to work on that at all?
JK: Yeah, we did not have to work on that. We had to send that out to somewhereelse. That is beyond the scope of what we have at the university beyond the equipment we had. We had to send that out and it was really close to the fuel tanks again we are not particularly trained to work that close to the fuel tank.
CD: Alright. But. A smaller bird or something, then. What is the most commontype of fix that you have to do?
JK: Most of the things that we have to do is regular maintenance.
JK: Mostly oil changes and just regular inspections.
CD: Alright. Now, because I work in the library I see that you are often in27:00here, fixing the flight simulator. So that's part of your job, too, is maintaining the flight simulators?
JK: That is part of my job as well. I maintain flight simulators. And the funnystory about that is that this is not the first time I've had to maintain flight simulators.
CD: Oh yeah?
JK: When I was in Western Michigan in university I had a work-study position atthe airport as well, and my boss was in charge of all of the computers and the flight simulators, so that's where I actually learned how to work on flight simulators. And apparently that occurred in to my new job.
CD: Yeah, that's something you can put on your resume.
JK: It's funny, just, it's funny how that works
CD: Alright then the other part of your job, the teaching part what can you tellus about that?
JK: So the teaching part, initially I was teaching one class.
CD: What class?
JK: Advanced Aircraft Systems because apparently I know a thing or two aboutsystems and I really like talking about it even though if people don't quite enjoy hearing about it. Currently I am in charge of a new program in the 28:00Aviation Department known as Applied Aviation Technology with a focus on Unmanned Aircraft Systems. So, I not only am I in charge of the program I also teach the classes in the program. So, again it's a focus on unmanned technology and unmanned aircraft systems which basically means drones for everybody out there, very exciting stuff, the way of the future, drones will be taking over at some point.
CD: I am half excited and half terrified the way you say that.
JK: Well it's a good thing for technology to advance, for technology to beavailable to do good things, it's doing some really wonderful stuff. Especially places like Africa, they have drones delivering medication to remote places 29:00because we don't have the infrastructure, the roads are not there. Well the roads are there but they are not conducive enough to transfer blood from point A to point B, it's easier to fly over them and be there in half and hour versus being stuck on a road for three hours. The only problem that I have or the only thing that worries me about this industry, this new emerging industry is people lack the knowledge and that is what I am trying to advocate right now. It's going to be a safe industry, just like aviation has been safe for the longest time but it took a lot of time, it took a lot of knowledge. The FAA did a wonderful job promoting that education and that's what we need to do right now in this new emerging market in the aviation industry is to promote that 30:00knowledge and tell people "Yes I know you can buy a drone at Walmart or anywhere else or from Amazon. Yes you have the gaming skills to fly it, we are not denying that, we are only telling you that you have to be safe while doing it and you need to seek out the knowledge so that you are not putting other people in danger".
CD: Well I don't know if you are familiar with Apex or not, but it's the studentscholarship program that we try to put on at the University of Dubuque but every year there are three or four posters on drones. Now I have some rebuttal because there is always one or two negative posters about drones and how they are in the airspace and how they can accidents but now I'll just say "It's all about education, you just educate people".
JK: You just need to educate people. People need to know that there are rulesout there and if you break them you can't say that you didn't know the rules. 31:00Well no duh but if you break them you will still get in trouble, you basically need to know what the rules are.
CD: So the program you are in charge of, how many students are in the programright now?
JK: About ten.
CD: Any females?
JK: I currently have one female in my class but she is not taking this as amajor or minor it was just an added class that she need to fill but I do enjoy having a female in my class, she is really engaged and she really wants to learn and she really wants to know what to do and she is very artistic so she is trying knew stuff. It's actually one of the classes where we build drones so she is trying something knew with her drone and I'm excited to see how it that going to turn out.
CD: So you have been around the aviation industry for a while now, you have beento a couple different Universities, you have been on the quote-unquote "real world", do you see more women entering the aviation field in the future and if 32:00not what can we do to attract women to the aviation industry?
JK: Stem programs.
CD: Ok, how so?
JK: We need to let females know that they deserve to be here as much as anybodyelse. As I mentioned I grew up in a house that was just all females and that kind of changes you. My mom was always like "Why can't you do better, what is preventing you from doing better" so when it came to our school she didn't mess around with our school work, as you can tell, she did not. She was like "my job is to go out and bring the food to the house. Your job is to go to school and do well" so every time we bring the grades in, and it was a different kind of ranking system where everybody's name would show up on a list and the ones with 33:00the highest grades and the ones with the lowest grades would show up on the list. And she would always look at the very top of the list, whoever was above you and she would see a guy's name there she would be like "Why? Why are you allowing a boy to defeat you?" I grew up with that mindset that anything a male can do a female can also do, there are no limitations and that's what a lot of females need to know that there are no limitations. Education is there for everybody, the knowledge is there everybody, and if you really enjoy what you are doing you will enjoy your job for the rest of your life. So nobody should necessarily discourage you from doing what you really want to do, it might be very unorthodox it might make you stand out and if you stand out you might be different. That is not necessarily a bad thing, sometimes that is really a good 34:00thing because then it tells people around you, it makes them aware that other things can be different as well, it also just brings awareness to everybody else around you, it makes them more comfortable being around you, it makes them more willing to accept differences and to see potential in places that they didn't necessarily look into and then again to introducing these ideas to females that not only they are capable but also introducing them to science and math in a fun way and maintaining that and constantly telling them that this is something you can do. It might be hard in the beginning because you are like "I don't know 35:00what is going on." but if you keep at it, it ends up being wonderful.
CD: You have mentioned earlier, by the way very good insightful answer. You havemention earlier that you were a part of Women in Aviation, was it WAI, Women in Aviation International?
JK: International, yep.
CD: Are you still active with them?
JK: Yes, I am still a part of Women in Aviation International. Again I joined itwhen I was in Western Michigan University, I have kept it up and during one the conferences there I met another organization called AWAM, Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance so they tend to have the conferences at the same time when Women in Aviation have their conference so it kind of helps, again I didn't there was a bite small community, I didn't know there was a community for women in maintenance. So that also helps, just being there, maintaining a constant presence so year in year out when you have an opportunity to go to these 36:00conferences you find people that have been there doing this for longer than you have, longer than you maintenance existed and there are still here and they are still encouraging you and encouraging to promote maintenance wherever you are. Again just like Women in Aviation they have scholarships, specific to females, specific to maintenance things you would have never had an opportunity to be a part of, knowledge you would have never have gained and they are telling you this is here for you. Again all you need to do is apply for the scholarship, it is here it is available for you, just do your part, write a 500 word essay, just do your part. And you end up receiving all these wonderful scholarships and traveling to all these wonderful places and meeting different people, people 37:00that get shocked and amazed that you even exist and that you do what it is that you are doing but again you are opening up their minds to possibilities of what the future is going to look like. Yeah females are here, black females are here we can do just as well as you can, we can do just the same thing you can, it's not a matter of being female, it's not a matter of race it's just, this is what I want to do.
CD: Well UD is very lucky that we have some that can share this information withour community so thanks for that. Well I don't have any more questions but I will leave you time if you would like to add anything that I missed or if you has any questions or if there is something that you would like the listeners to know.
JK: What do I want the listeners to know? I would actually like to challenge thelisteners to view the world a bit differently and if some of our listeners out 38:00there really like the stem programs, to try and promote it to somebody that really needs it.
CD: Thank you for your time I really appreciate it.