Eagle Impact

Around the globe, alumni step up to combat and contain the pandemic

Months before the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) started circumnavigating our planet, we planned to launch a new Lift department that would highlight the university’s global impact and its internationally connected alumni. We didn’t expect to inaugurate this new Global section during an unprecedented pandemic, but given the timing, we’d be remiss not to address it.

Eagles who work for the airlines, airports and the Federal Aviation Administration and in medical settings became front-line workers, as they continued to report for duty, despite the virus threat. Other alumni stepped up to help their communities.

Embry-Riddle alumnus Phil Rosnik (’86) stands in front of his Cessna TR182 at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport with Sofiya Diurba, who is a University of Colorado medical student. Both are volunteers with Angel Flight West and are assisting with the statewide distribution of urgently needed supplies to rural Colorado hospitals, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Credit: Angel Flight West)

For example, Phil Rosnik (’86), a volunteer command pilot and chief mentor pilot for Angel Flight West (AFW) Colorado Wing, used his Cessna TR182 to fly lifesaving medical supplies — including hand sanitizer, surgical masks and gowns — to a rural Colorado hospital. Rosnik says the CEO of Wray Community District Hospital was so anxious to get the supplies that he met Rosnik at the airport with his personal pickup truck to retrieve the 85 pounds of cargo.

“It’s just a fantastic way to be useful in a crisis, while using your skills and your aircraft to do something you love to do,” Rosnik says.

Others, like Gabriel Bentz (’15), a partner at Slant 3D, used their engineering and manufacturing skills to create protective face masks for front-line medical workers. “We have redirected our 3D printing farms to help medical personnel and have been manufacturing 1,000 3D-printed face shields per day, in order to address the protective equipment supply shortages felt during the COVID-19 epidemic,” Bentz says.

At Embry-Riddle, 22 staff people have been mobilized to serve as digital engagement officers. “With many states adopting a stay-at-home ordinance during the pandemic, we are engaging alumni and friends through video and telephone visits to share words of support and encouragement during these difficult times,” says Donald Hale, executive director and digital engagement officer.

As many Eagles moved to their home offices to telework during the pandemic, several shared their experiences with us. Following are a few of their stories.

dad working with pillow over his ears while kids have a pillowfight in the background
Stewart Craig (’98), working from his home in Spain.

Spanish Lock-Down

“Sushi restaurant chain owner, to shipbroker, to now Realtor in southern Spain. My company is called We Sell Homes In Paradise, and currently it’s ironic, as what’s going on in Spain is not paradise at all. Right now, we have been locked in for more than a week and this has been extended to the middle of April. I am based in Sotogrande, southern Spain, with my wife and four kids trying to work from home. It’s very hard, and I think this photo sums it up.”
— Stewart Craig (’98)

Multicolored cotton face masks
Kelly George’s (’15) homemade masks.

Sewing for a Purpose

“I’m making face masks with all my spare fabric for the #millionmaskchallenge! [A global sew-a-thon supporting healthcare workers and those in need]”
— Embry-Riddle Associate Professor Kelly George (’15)

Alumnus with two packages of toilet paper near his airplane
Michael Stein (’15) on his flight to get T.P.

Got T.P.?

“We flew from Washington to Montana … for toilet paper. And a passenger!”
— Michael Stein (’15)

Medical boat on the Hudson River with New York skyline
Douglas Muir’s (’84) view of New York from his home.

Mobile Hospital View

“I just took this picture off my deck. These are crazy times we are in.”
— Douglas Muir (’84)