Stayce Harris portrait

Why I Give: A Retired General Creates a Legacy

A question and answer session with Embry-Riddle alumni Lt. Gen. Stayce Harris ↖ This heading is for screen readers and wont be visible on the page.

Honoring the Past Inspires Lt. Gen. Stayce Harris to Pay It Forward With a Scholarship Dedicated to Emerging Aviators

Retired Lt. Gen. Stayce Harris (’87) earned her place in history as the first African American woman to hold the three‑star rank in the U.S. Air Force. And she is among the first to achieve the three‑star rank as an Air Force reservist.

She earned her undergraduate degree in engineering from the University of Southern California, followed by a master's in Aviation Management at the Embry‑Riddle Worldwide Campus at Norton Air Force Base in California, later serving as adjunct professor.

In establishing a scholarship for Embry‑Riddle students, she honors the past that inspired her and casts a decisive vote of confidence in the contributions of emerging aviators. The Lieutenant General Stayce Harris/Tuskegee Airmen Scholarship will become an endowed scholarship fund to support African American, full‑time juniors or seniors who maintain a GPA of 2.5 or higher.

A scholarship helped shape your career path. Is that why you chose this form of a gift to Embry-Riddle?

Yes, absolutely! An Air Force ROTC scholarship allowed me to complete my undergraduate degree, and Air Force tuition enabled me to complete my master’s degree at Embry‑Riddle. I remain very grateful for both. Now being able to give back and pay my blessings forward to the next generation of STEM and aviation professionals brings me joy and hopefully relieves, even in a small way, the worry of college debt when pursuing an education and, eventually, professional dreams.

You have spoken about the legacy of the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and the Tuskegee Airmen. Why did you choose to name your scholarship as you did?

I named the scholarship to honor and continue the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen. I met the Tuskegee Airmen and their families three months before I went to Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training (nearly 40 years ago). They’ve been my heroes/sheroes, inspiration and extended family ever since. I dedicated my Air Force career to making them proud because I was so grateful they paved the way for someone that looked like me, as a black female, to follow in their footsteps.

Is it important to you that students appreciate the history of these trailblazers?

It is very important to understand the journey of our trailblazers and, if you’re fortunate enough, get to meet them and learn firsthand from their wisdom and experiences. I feel fortunate that during my Air Force career, I met several WASPs and learned from their experiences as our first women Air Force pilots serving in World War II. Their passion for serving our nation, fortitude and most importantly their spunkiness warms my heart. They are true sheroes! It was my greatest honor to have both a WASP and a Tuskegee Airman pin on my third star during the ceremony promoting me to lieutenant general.

If a student benefitting from your scholarship could “blaze a trail” or break a barrier as you have, what would you like that achievement to be?

I would love for them to blaze their trail and own it. As I often share, I want people to “fly their own airplane” and blaze a trail that is uniquely theirs and then pay it forward by leading, mentoring and being a force multiplier by giving back to others.

Is there anything you wish you had known earlier in your career?

Academics are important. So give every class your best effort because your college grades may not completely reflect you or your potential, but they offer a first impression of your perceived abilities. You want that first impression to be positive.

Is there any advice you would like to share to supplement the skills and mastery students will gain through your scholarship?

I’ll offer Tuskegee Airmen Brig. Gen. Charles McGee’s Four P’s formula for success: Perceive, Prepare, Perform, Persevere. And I offer a fifth P: Pay your blessings forward.

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