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OSU-Tulsa student hooked on aviation - at first sound

Emma Keller

The first thing Emma Keller ever heard was an airplane engine.

After spending her first 18 months of life without the ability to hear, an operation opened up the world of sound. While leaving the hospital in her mother’s arms, she pointed excitedly as she heard an airplane flying overhead.

“Of course, I don’t really remember that, but my mom tells that story,” Keller says with a laugh.

That first sound led to a lifelong love of airplanes and a yearning to become part of the aerospace industry.

"I always just kept coming back to aviation,” Keller says. “And when I saw that OSU-Tulsa has the program I want, it all just fell into place."

Keller is a junior in aerospace administration and operations at OSU-Tulsa and has her sights set on becoming an airport manager.

As a straight-A student in college, most who know her now would be surprised to hear that Keller is a high school dropout.

Despite being an honors student, personal turmoil during her senior year kept Keller from being able to focus so she stopped attending school. But she earned her GED and is still considered a 2009 graduate from Broken Arrow High School.

That achievement led her to take courses at Tulsa Community College even as she rose to a management position at an automotive dealership.

Then she found out about OSU-Tulsa’s aviation management degree program.

It just so happens that five generations of her family have attended OSU. So she was able to continue the family’s Cowboy tradition in Tulsa while earning the degree of her dreams.

"I think OSU-Tulsa - especially for working people – is amazing. I work full-time. But with evening and online classes, college fits right into my schedule," Keller says. “And the aviation program is so tight-knit. You get to know the professors and other students so you always have someone you can talk to. I like the personal touch.”

She looks forward to spending her career in the hustle and bustle of an airport.

“So many people hate being in airports, but I absolutely love it,” Keller says. “There are all these different people from different places passing through. I find it exciting.”

As Keller continues to excel in college, the idea of earning a doctorate and becoming a professor after time as an airport manager has piqued her interest. She would love to help others pursue their aviation dreams.

“That’s where my heart’s been, helping people get to where they’re going,” she says.

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