University of Utah students discuss their passion for medicine and science

What university students are enduring now to be successful later on.

Story and slideshow by Ryan Matthew Thurston

It’s late on a Saturday night, and while most students are sleeping, partying or hanging out with friends, Ben Battistone, a freshman from Salt Lake City, is busy studying.

“I spend 15 to 20 hours a week on homework, conservatively. If it’s a test week I spend probably about 30,” he said.

He has a good reason to study. Although Battistone is only 19, he has big plans for the future: He wants to be a doctor.

“My dad is a doctor, so I grew up around it,” he said. “I’ve always been a quantitative person, so the sciences come naturally.”

Battistone has been studying at the University of Utah for almost a year. He’s not entirely sure what kind of doctor he wants to be, but whatever his specialty, his primary focus is helping people.

“I want to make a positive difference,” he said. “I really hope people don’t do it for money or job security. You’re sacrificing quality of care. If someone’s in it for the money, they won’t be as passionate and motivated as if they’re in it for the people.”

Helping patients is an essential part of any medical profession. As one doctor told Battistone, “They don’t treat patients, they treat people.” But he says the extra workload is worth it.

“Students in general are under a lot of pressure,” Battistone said. “You have to balance a lot of things in class while being asked to somehow take extracurricular activities. It’s crazy sometimes.”

The tremendous workload is a common theme among science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors. Ben Adams, a biomedical engineering major from Salt Lake City, has experienced similar trials in his pursuit of going to medical school.

“I don’t know that the major is the most important part of it,” Adams explained. “I’ve been considering changing my major to biochemistry or kinesiology.”

Between taking classes and studying, Adams also plays defense for the No. 1 ranked lacrosse team in the nation. Participating in sports has also influenced his career path.

“This summer I had a hip surgery done,” he said. “That doctor was incredible. He did such a great job that it made me think this is maybe something I want to look into.”

Like Battistone, Adams only takes four classes a semester, but considers his workload to be significantly more. Each class requires more work outside of it and contains harder concepts within.

“I’m in 12 credit hours, and it’s supposed to be a lighter load,” he explained. “But I probably spend upwards of four hours a day on calculus and bioengineering.”

Such a workload might seem unfamiliar to students with different majors. But for STEM majors and pre-med students, it’s a common thread that binds them together.

“I think about how the workload differs between majors a lot,” Adams said. “Some kids have 16 credit hours and have more free time whereas I’m swamped the whole day.”

Adams isn’t complaining though. He understands the work he has to put in might be more than someone else, comparatively.

“The end goal is very desirable,” he said. “Helping other people is something I want to do. It’s challenging but worth it.”

Helping people is a consistent theme across STEM majors, even for those who don’t want to go to medical school. Stella Ray is a chemistry major from Park City, Utah, but says she eventually wants to teach the subject in high school.

“I took chemistry all three years in high school,” she said. “I was a teaching assistant and tutor for it as well, and that’s how I decided I wanted to teach it at the high school level.”

Although Ray is only 19, education has always been something she’s wanted to work in. She explained that while chemistry can be challenging, having to work hard to understand the material has given her a greater appreciation for it.

“I like the challenge that chemistry poses,” she said. “Physics makes like no sense to me, but chemistry poses enough of a challenge that I had to work at it, and because of that I ended up liking it more.”

Ray also puts a lot into her studies, but often does so with friends to make things easier.

“The classes that require the most effort are my calculus and chemistry classes for sure,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like a ton of work though, since I have such a good support group of friends.”

Interaction with others is something Ray anticipates as she pursues her career.

“I think maybe more so than the subject of chemistry I love teaching,” she said. “That is my No. 1 priority, to become a teacher.”

Ray explained that in high school, she was amazed how different teachers led to different experiences for students.

“A lot of my peers have had different teachers,” she said. “Usually if they didn’t like chemistry it was because of the teacher they had. If you have a good teacher, even if the subject doesn’t come naturally, you’re still going to enjoy it more. I want to be the teacher that makes this subject accessible to everyone.”

Whether they are studying anatomy, chemistry or biology, the students at the University of Utah all seem to be tied together by more than just their workloads. Those who really work at it all seem to have one goal in common: helping others.

 

 

Despite cries of colony collapse, master beekeeper asks, “What crisis?”

Story by KELSEY MAE RATHKE

Of all the things to worry about today – Russian election meddling, White House scandals, will the Utah Jazz make it past the first round of the NBA playoffs – dying bees is one you can cross of the list.

In recent years, news headlines warning of a massive bee extinction and the impending demise of the planet have not only been rampant, they have been overstated, local beekeeper Albert Chubak said. He said that the great bee die-off is not a real issue. 

“I read it all the time online and it’s false,” Chubak, the owner of Eco Bee Box and a beekeeper for three decades, said. “If the bees all die out, we as a people are dead in two years.”

Between his relentless grin and his deliberate, halting speech, it is clear Chubak has a passion for bees. His office walls are covered in beehive innovation awards he has received and photos of beekeeping in action.

Chubak says not all bees are having this problem, but rather just honey bees – one of some 20,000 species. He believes other bees and pollinators, including butterflies, ants, flies, wind, rain, birds and bats, could maintain the planet.  

Two bee facts that all adults (and children) should learn, Albert Chubak says:
1. Bees aren’t looking for something to sting. They search for food and protect their hive.
2. Honey is better and easier to digest than crystallized sugars and corn syrups. Honey is antibiotic, antiseptic, antimicrobial, anti fungal and never goes bad.

Chubak began working with honey bees in 1985 in Beaver Creek, in Canada’s Saskatchewan province. He says he was hired for a fall honey harvest at a local apiary. In three weeks of work he was stung only once.

Still, the docile temperament of honey bees stuck with him. But it wasn’t for another 20 years or so that he purchased his first bee boxes. He bought seven hives for $50 only to learn once home the boxes contained no bees.

“I started off my beekeeping career by harvesting honey,” Chubak said. “I believe we got five 5-gallon buckets of honey” — all without a single sting.

Fast forward to the recession, when Chubak worked as a general contractor. As the construction business tanked along with the rest of the economy, Chubak needed a new way to make a living. That’s when he turned to the bees. He developed several ways to remove bees, hornets and wasps from homes and founded Utah Bee Removal.

BeeRemoval

Honey bees prior to being removed from the wall of a home. Image courtesy of Albert Chubak.

From relocating honey bees, Chubak learned that bees maintain their own colonies. Yet, his personal hives were dying every year. On a 13-hour drive to California, he designed a hive that mimicked what he was seeing from colonies in walls.

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A one-box Mini Urban Hive on stand in a backyard.

The Mini Urban Hive is “the only hive in the country that is essentially training wheels for a beekeeper,” Chubak said.

Chubaks hives start at $75 for a one-box hive. A four-box hives costs $200. Chubak also supplies bees for $40 — and guarantees their success, as long as newbie beekeepers follow his formula. 

“There are a lot of beehives out there and every beehive has a regional advantage and a personal preference,” he said.

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Traditional Langstroth style beehives in a Colorado field. Image courtesy of Beth Conrey.

Beth Conrey, owner of Bee Squared Apiaries and Treasurer of the Pollinator Stewardship Council (PSC), a national pollinators advocacy group focused on national forage and pesticide policy, keeps the traditional Langstroth hives, which she likes for honey production.

But beekeeping is not for everyone, Conrey said. Her advice for those who aren’t committed to keeping bees: “Just plant flowers and put up native bee boxes.”

Conrey also advises against spraying pesticides.

“Plant flowers. Don’t spray them,” she said.

“If they still wanted to keep honey bees after a year or two of doing that, then they would need to make the time, find the money and take a class,” she said.

The recommended path to beekeeping is not widely agreed upon and Chubak’s design has its devout keepers.

“The Mini Urban Beehive is the only way to go,” Marlene Jacobsen Schnabel, a Salt Lake City beekeeper, said. “The bees are mellow, easy to inspect and manage.”

Schnabel appreciates the size.  

“The frames are small, lightweight and even my grandchildren are fascinated and able to manipulate the frames,” she added.

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For those who find owning a hive intimidating, there are still ways to “bee” an advocate, Chubak said.

He suggests planting a pollinator garden since many neighborhoods are full of non-flowering shrubs and grass. Bringing honey bees to the forefront of people’s mind by creating and selling bee-themed art and photography, supporting local honey and learning to cook with honey are other ways to support bees.

“Bee-ing a part of a solution is trying to figure out what is natural,” Chubak said.

 

Branding The Leonardo

Story and gallery by CHARLES BUCK

The front desk of the Leonardo Museum was bustling as employees were answering phones and signing for deliveries on Monday, March 12. A new exhibit was opening in three days and the activities formed the perfect backdrop as the museum’s Chief Development Officer, Deb Peterson, described the challenges of creating a brand.

According to The Leonardo’s website, the museum opened in 2011 with the personality behind Leonardo da Vinci as a brand strategy that would define a museum dedicated to inspiring “creativity and innovation in people of all ages and background.”

Sitting just inside the main exhibition space, Peterson explained that da Vinci’s curiosity perfectly defined an interactive museum dedicated to learning about art, science and technology. The goal was to align the museum with the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

It allowed The Leonardo, located at 209 E. 500 South, to be a place where visitors could explore exhibits with the same sense of curiosity and wonder as da Vinci himself. However, creating such a unique space also created unique branding challenges.

“Phase one was to get the doors open,” Peterson explained. Phase two was to spark interest in the community by hosting famous exhibits like “Bodyworlds” and the “Dead Sea Scrolls.” While successful, these exhibits didn’t clinch The Leonardo’s brand identity in Utah.

“We had to reeducate the public,” Peterson said. The museum had developed a reputation for being a venue for traveling exhibits, and the public forgot that The Leonardo had the unique distinction of being a place of discovery and wonder in the world around us.

This reeducation process involved all the traditional media: print, radio, television and billboards. Social media was starting to play a role, but “wasn’t what it is today,” Peterson explained. The board of directors assumed the challenge was merely to explain why the museum became da Vinci’s namesake. However, they quickly discovered that not everyone was familiar with the painter, architect and inventor Leonardo da Vinci. “We just assumed everyone knew,” Peterson said.

This branding challenge continues today, with social media playing an ever-changing role. “@theLeo,” “#theLeonardo,” and “#attheLeonardo” have all been attempts at increasing public engagement through various social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. While describing a successful social media strategy Peterson explained that the challenge in going viral is having content critically relevant to the current social climate. To go viral the right message has to be shared with the right audience at the right time.

The focus on relevance has led The Leonardo to partner with Pictureline to create a drone exhibit, and with the LEGO brand to create an interactive exhibit focused on da Vinci’s fascination with architecture and city planning.

Mariann Asanuma is a LEGO master builder commissioned by The Leonardo to build a replica of the Cathedral of the Madeleine, a Salt Lake City landmark completed in 1909. She started working for LEGO in 2003, and eventually realized her dream of turning her passion for the building blocks into a career.

LEGO fans describe the years between when they stop playing with LEGOs in their teens and start playing with them again in their 20s as “dark years.” Asanuma explained, “I never had dark years.” Her Instagram page describes Asanuma as the “World’s First Female LEGO Artist specializing in #marketing #custommodels #teambuildingevents #customkits.”

Her latest posts highlight the progress that Asanuma is making on her model, which she is building on-site at The Leonardo. Asanuma described the constant popularity of Lego as the result of children invigorating their parents’ passion for the blocks, and not always the parents introducing their children to their own childhood toys.

“The LEGO Movie” and “The LEGO Batman Movie” helped the brand resonate with a new generation. Social media and the internet have also helped lifelong fans of the brand, like Asanuma, create online communities where people remain engaged and passionate about LEGO.

This relevance in popular culture is what makes the LEGO brand such a good match for The Leonardo. Leonardo da Vinci’s exploits with architecture and city planning allow the museum to host a LEGO exhibit without diluting its brand identity, and the popularity of the building blocks brings in a new generation of museumgoers who engage with the exhibit in creative ways.

The exhibit opened March 15, 2018, and between the displays were areas where children could act out the inspiration they found while watching Asanuma in action.

The Leonardo also hosts programs like the “FIRST LEGO League.” The league launched in September 2017 and workshops are scheduled until May 2018. These programs draw in the younger generation, while exhibits like “FLIGHT,” “FANTASTIC FORGERIES,” and “WOMAN/WOMEN” help adults identify with the museum’s brand of discovery and curiosity.

Many of the exhibits adhere to the “Hands on @ The Leo” strategy, and encourage patrons to engage with The Leonardo in person, just as they can in social media. The museum’s website invites visitors to come and discover the “forces behind engineering by tinkering, designing, and problem solving.”

Partnering with companies that brand themselves around the processes of technology or discovery will keep the museum relevant. Peterson described the essence of The Leonardo’s brand strategy: “If guests leave our museum with more questions than answers, I’ve done my job.”

Scientists Warn Northern Europe Could Become Uninhabitable In The Next Hundred Years

By: Bradley Hunsaker

This last winter brought record low temperatures and early freezes in much of northern Europe killing close to 80 people.  Even more people had to be evacuated, mostly airlifted, from their homes due to record snowfalls and temperatures falling below 25 degrees Fahrenheit, making the area unlivable.

Scientists have documented temperatures as the lowest in over 100 years and most are saying this is not the last of the brutal winters for that region.

“No, this is only the start,” said Jay Mace, a climate change professor at the University of Utah. “Unfortunately this pattern is what scientists have been predicting would happen for some time now and it is only going to get worse.”

The temperature shifts are occurring because of a change in the North Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation or AMOC, responsible for bringing warm air to parts of northern Europe that on the other side of the hemisphere are seen as uninhabitable.  The AMOC is a global current that is driven by the heat and water vapor exchanged to cold dry air masses from North America.  Cold, salty water tends to be denser than regular water, causing it to sink in the ocean.  The coldest and saltiest waters are formed in the North Atlantic where the current gets most of its drive.

The problem we are seeing, explains Jay, is that the glacier ice melting in the ocean from Greenland and the arctic is bringing in too much fresh water to the current, causing the flow that thrives on salt water to slowly shut down.  When the current shuts down, warm air can no longer be circulated to places like northern Europe.

If the current does shut down, most of northern Europe from Bulgaria to Denmark and especially places in the north like Russia and Sweden will become frozen over and too cold for any civilization to thrive.

Last time the world saw an event like this was when Lake Agassiz which used to be located in North America drained into the Atlantic dumping fresh water into the ocean.  This event shut down the current for two millennia causing a return to ice in the northern hemisphere causing most of what we see today in places like the Yukon in northern Canada.

Even though scientists have been studying events like this very little is known about the current and how to help it.  Most people are unaware of what is actually causing these global freezes and not much is being done to help it.

“I don’t know what is causing these hot and cold temperatures around the world,” said Liz Griggs, master’s student studying piano performance at the U. “I can say it is all about global warming but then I would just be saying what I have heard from the news.  I can’t really say one way or another what is causing this and how to help.”

Even those studying climate change and weather have very little knowledge exactly how the current works.

“It is concerning to have a natural event that we have no control over and we have very little understanding on what impact we really have on it and what we can do about it,” said Scott Elkins, who is pursuing an atmospheric science minor at the U.   “It is sad that we have to be aware of this event yet have little understanding what to do about it.”

Despite the lack of understanding of the current from the general public, Climatologists have been working hard to understand it and try and see what can be done to reverse the change before it becomes too late.

“Oh, there is no doubt about it,” said Jay, “If trends continue how they are and glacier waters keeps flowing into the AMOC, the current will shut down in a few hundred years and we will see an end to life in a lot of places until it can get started again.  And by the time that happens the world will have already undergone another major climate shift.”

Specialized Chair Helps Veterans Go Paragliding

Story by Sean Gustafson

On Sept. 3, 2011 five veterans tested a new type of paraglider over Sun Valley, Idaho. What made this an event noteworthy was that all five of these veterans are suffering from spinal cord injuries (SCI).

The veterans were able to participate in the paragliding by means of a set of specialized chairs called “Phoenix 1.0” and “Phoenix 1.5.”  The “Phoenix” chairs were made from one inch aircraft aluminum tubing allowing for a sturdy 35lb craft.

These chairs were the product of four months of researching and testing from four University of Utah students under the direction of professor Don Bloswick.

Mark Gaskill, of ABLE Pilot, provided the training for the chairs an organization committed to help people with spinal cord injuries, amputations, and neuromuscular diseases into flying-type actives.

To see test runs on the “Phoenix” chairs, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9j33A0UV8A

Veterans Learn to Fly Solo

Five veterans with spinal cord injuries take to the sky to learn how to paraglide.

By Elizabeth Briggs

SUN VALLEY, Idaho– Despite spinal cord injuries, five veterans will learn to fly solo this weekend using paraglide flight chairs developed by engineers at the University of Utah.

Training for the veterans will be directed by Mark Gaskill from ABLE Pilot who has spent years developing programs to teach disabled persons how to paraglide.

“Able Pilot is an organization committed to getting people with spinal cord injuries, amputations, and neuromuscular diseases safely into the air, piloting, and flying with the minimum amount of assistance,” said Gaskill.

Gaskill proposed the idea of an adaptive paragliding chair to the engineers at the University of Utah, who then made it a reality. Under the direction of Don Bloswick, four students developed the chairs named the Phoenix 1.0 and the Phoenix 1.5. that will enable the veterans to fly.

Beforehand, the veterans will begin Friday by learning how the paraglide functions and how to pilot it. Throughout the following days they will begin by flying 3 feet off the ground, will take several tandem flights and by Monday will be flying solo.

For more information visit the ABLE Pilot website at http://ablepilot.com/

Veterans Will Fly Solo

Story by Sarah Vaughn

Five injured veterans will return to flight with the help of mechanical engineering students at the University of Utah and ABLE Pilot.

Sun Valley, IDAHO- Training will begin and will continue until Monday in Sun Valley, Idaho, for five veterans with spinal cord injuries (SCI) who are learning to fly in adaptive chairs, Phoenix 1.0 and improved flight chair Phoenix 1.5.

The first day of training, the veterans will be trained in paragliding.
They will be taught the functions of the flight chairs and how to pilot it. Furthermore, they will be taught how flight chairs work and experience the paragliders about 3 feet off the ground.

Mark Gaskill, from ABLE Pilot, is working with the veterans; he has been working in the area of flight chairs for injured persons with spinal cord.

“ABLE Pilot is an organization committed to getting people with spinal cord injuries, amputations, and neuromuscular diseases safely into air, piloting and flying with the minimum amount of assistance,” said Gaskill. Gaskill initially came to the U. of. U. with the idea to develop adaptive flight.

Salt Lake Valley schools and shops adapt to changes in the photo industry

Story and slideshow by RIKKI ALLIE

Digital photography has taken the photo scene by storm and is changing the dynamic of both classrooms and photo shops in the Salt Lake City Valley.

Frank Langheinrich, East High School film photography teacher, talked about how the increase in digital photography has changed the dynamic of his classroom.

Students are coming in to his classes without the knowledge of how to use simple point-and-shoot cameras. Students do not know how to adjust the outcome of a picture from a point-and-shoot, including how to change the shutter-speed for action shots.

Langheinrich learned photography during family road trips. His dad would take him and his brother on weekend trips and would stop the car when he saw a good photo subject. Langheinrich would get tired of sitting in the back seat with his brother, so his dad bought him a small 35mm camera and showed him how to use it.

Langheinrich said he chooses to still teach analog photography because photo galleries prefer silver gelatin prints. They are more archival and last many years. Digital photography can be printed but the ink used is not proven to last for many years; it fades easily and can be smeared.

But it is so expensive to operate the film lab because of  the chemicals used for both developing film and printing the pictures, the school district is remodeling East High photo lab to have more computers. The photo lab would only have three to four enlargers — a projector used to enlarge a negative onto photographic paper — instead of the eight to 10 that the school has now.

According to National Geographic, photography dates back to the early 1800s. The first known photograph was taken with an obscura camera. This camera is different than a 35mm camera because instead of a negative film strip there is a piece of photo paper behind a covered pinhole. When the hole is uncovered the light is let into the box and a picture is imprinted on the photo paper. Once the photo paper is developed in chemicals a picture is revealed.

The first camera was released in 1888. The camera had a strip of film that could take 100 pictures. When a roll of film was full with pictures, photographers would send the entire camera and the film to be developed, according the website. Once the pictures were developed, the camera, along with a whole new roll of film, would be delivered back to the camera owner.

The 35mm camera was developed in 1913-1914. The camera gets its name from its reduced film size. Photographers would then enlarge the photo once the negatives were developed, according to National Geographic.

The first digital camera came out in the mid-1970s once Kodak scientists invented the world’s first megapixel sensor. This meant that light could be converted to digital photography, according to the website.

With all this advancement it isn’t surprising that people are starting to depend on the preprogrammed settings to take care of the technical part of the photo. This includes both the shutter speed and lighting.

Genna Boss-Barney, a student at Salt Lake Community College, took an introduction to photography class in spring of 2011. She said the class covered the basic information about both film and digital photography.

Once the class was over she realized she had known nothing about her digital camera. She hadn’t even known how to change the settings on her camera to make the pictures look better before it was taken.

“We learned about how to work the controls [aperture and shutter speed] on both cameras,” Boss-Barney said.

Unlike East High, which is being remodeled for a smaller wet lab — the workspace that uses chemicals to develop film — SLCC will be moving the wet lab from the Redwood extension to the South Jordan extension to expand the lab space.

“Sadly our wet lab was under construction, so we weren’t able to learn that part of the developing,” Boss-Barney said.

Students were advised to take their film to Inkley’s Camera. It was not recommended to go to Walgreens or Walmart. Boss-Barney said her professor told his students that the quality of those mass-produced prints would not be as good as the prints from Inkley’s.

Like Langheinrich, Boss-Barney’s teacher focused a majority of the term on digital photography.

“I don’t know if it was because we had no wet lab, so it was just a hassle to get the film developed or because he was more passionate about the digital aspect,” Boss-Barney said.

She said that even though the class has been moved to the South Jordan extension, it would be worth the drive to take it again. It was an interesting class and has helped with her digital photography hobby.

Though classes for analog photography are still in Salt Lake Valley, over the past few years it has become less popular. Borge Anderson, local owner of Borge Anderson Photo Digital in Salt Lake City, said on average, they are only using the wet lab about 10 percent of the time.

“We are completely digital,” Anderson said.

Once the film is developed it is digitally scanned to digitize the negatives onto the computer. The prints are then made from those scans. Anderson and his employees do not use enlargers to create photos anymore.

Not only has the developing and printing process changed, but Anderson’s business has changed too. He has gone from 33 employees to only eight in the past five years. Anderson is planning on retiring and the shop will be closing down.

“Unless the employees want to keep it running,” Anderson said. “But that hasn’t been decided at this moment.”

If his shop closes, there will be fewer than 10 shops in the Salt Lake City area that develop film on site.

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Charisse Hunter: ‘My dream is to live in the sky, not on land’

Story and photo by RIKKI ALLIE

Charisse Hunter next to a single engine plane.

Charisse Hunter is a 27-year-old woman from West Valley, Utah, who describes herself as a prospective pilot. In a recent interview, she discussed her seemingly unconventional path to becoming a pilot.

Her journey to becoming a pilot did not necessarily emerge on her own accord. “I was a bad child and my parents sent me to flight school for at-risk teens when I was 15 years old,” Hunter said.

“I didn’t want to fly,” she said.

During her time at the William “Bill” Campbell Chapter of the San Francisco Bay area Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. flight school, Hunter learned basic flight skills and was able to experience flight for the first time. World War II veterans mentored and guided troubled teens by sharing their own stories of breaking through the color barrier in order to earn respect and be considered pilots.

While at the flight school Hunter’s eyes were opened to the possibilities available to her as a potential pilot and so began her love for flying.

Due to airline requirements Hunter could not start off flying planes. She started out at Pinnacle Aviation Academy in San Diego, Calif. She was dispatcher for the flight scheduling and helped with the international flight students. “I helped them through their courses and got them scheduled for flight hours,” Hunter said.

In the male dominated career of flying, Hunter felt like that the majority of men she was dealing with did not agree that she could handle being a pilot.

“It didn’t matter what I was trying to do. It seems like every instructor that I was dealing with didn’t agree with me being inside the plane,” Hunter said.

She took private lessons while living out in California.

Hunter received her private pilot license in 2002 once she had 120 hours of flying. She could fly single-engine planes over land. She is not yet rated to fly over the ocean.

Between 2002-2005, Hunter was able to get 370 hours of flying time and received her commercial piloting license for multi-engine planes.

She also earned a rating license for instrument planes after completing about 100 hours of flying time. That means she can navigate both single- and multi-engine planes using the instruments, rather than having to rely on visual references to the ground or sky.

In 2006, while working at becoming a pilot in California, Hunter met Franklin Lewis, a member of the U.S. Navy. She said she couldn’t help falling for him. He was sweet, funny, and he had the uniform.

“I have a thing for a guy in a uniform, what can I say. I couldn’t resist,” Hunter said, jokingly.

Lewis moved to Utah when he was offered a job at the University of Utah. Hunter stayed behind in California.

“The long distance thing just was not working out,” Hunter said. “I would fly out in a private plane every few weeks but it was expensive, $2,000, one way.”

After two and a half years, Hunter moved to Utah to be with Lewis. They have been together for five years and are planning a wedding in October 2012.

Hunter is now attending Utah Valley University and anticipates completing her bachelor’s degree in aviation science in 2013. By then, many commercial pilots who learned to fly during the Vietnam War will have reached 65, the mandatory retirement age, which will create a higher demand for pilots.

Her long-range plans include working at a regional airline for three to five years. She then wants to work for Southwest Airlines  for 10 to 15 years. Finally, she hopes to work as a pilot for FedEx, which pays $180,000 per year.

However, recently Hunter experienced a temporary setback. A plane operator in Huntington Beach, Calif., had been using her radio operation license. She hopes to resolve this problem soon so she can apply to American Eagle, a regional carrier for American Airlines, or SkyWest Airlines.

Hunter said she isn’t able to fly as often as she would like. But she is hoping to take to the sky with an old friend, Dylan Whitmore. He just moved from California to go to school at Westminster College for a degree in aviation management.

“Chae (Charisse) is a strong headed woman and a great pilot,” Whitmore said. “I keep telling her I want to go flying with her but, she is always so busy. Hopefully, I can finally get up in the sky with her again.”