Boeing scholarship empowers local high school graduate

Shannon Byrne plans to pursue a degree in cyber intelligence and security.

Shannon Byrne’s interest in programming was sparked at an early age. She recalled the time she and her sister accidentally infected her father’s computer with a virus and learned how to remove it themselves.

“Actually, it’s a funny story. He sat us down to watch an antivirus software (video) and work all day. It was supposed to be a punishment,” Byrne said. “I thought it was amazing.”

After being named a 2019 Boeing scholarship recipient, Byrne of Westview High School will attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University this fall where she will continue to immerse herself in the realm of programming, coding and cybersecurity.

The Boeing scholarship, which is valued at $5,000 and awarded annually for two years, recognizes students with financial need who demonstrate academic excellence and an interest in aviation science, aircraft maintenance and other fields at Embry-Riddle.

“The inaugural cohort of Boeing Scholars at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University are all highly accomplished, high-performing high-school students with exceptional grade-point averages,” Embry-Riddle President Dr. P. Barry Butler said in a statement.

Byrne, who participated in one of Embry-Riddle’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs and held a GPA of 4.5 throughout high school, believes scholarships that reward hard work — like the Boeing scholarship — are important for students to have access to.

“It gives financial aid to people who are deserving. They worked hard and they are recognized for their skills through this scholarship. I find that amazing,” Byrne said.

Byrne, who plans to pursue a degree in cyber intelligence and security, is a prime example of the scholarship’s focus to increase the number of women and other underrepresented groups enrolled at the university.

“My dream job is to program software, decode viruses and get them off everyone’s software. I feel like not everyone — female or minority — is interested in this type of field. I don’t see any trouble going into it. I got interested right away,” she said.

Butler noted Byrne’s grit to pursue the things she’s passionate about.

“Scholars like Shannon Byrne of Avondale, Arizona, inspire us to reach for our most ambitious goals,” Butler said. “We congratulate Shannon on her achievement and look forward to watching her progress at Embry-Riddle.”