Zonta honors Amelia Earhart, scholarship recipients

Brittany McDaniel, news editor

The Zonta Club of Central Oklahoma held their business meeting Jan. 18. The meeting began with a highlight of Amelia Earhart’s career, and paralleled the famous flyer’s contribution to society by introducing the guest speaker for the evening: Captain Anne Portlock, a pilot in the US Air Force.

Portlock started her career at the Air Force Academy, and began by flying glider planes. She graduated to larger training aircraft such as the T-34 “Mentor” and the T-1 “Jayhawk.” Some of her recent flights include flying an E-3, also known as the AWACS. Portlock is stationed out of Tinker Air Force Base, home to the E-3.

During her speech, Portlock told a story about her husband’s deployment to the United Arab Emirates, in which she flew the E-3 out to her husband’s location. During the mission, she was able to meet up with her spouse for an evening diner in the desert.

Portlock spoke of her days at the Academy as one of very few women, and being one of even fewer female pilots.

“When I went to the academy, there were seven men to every woman,” Portlock said.

Portlock also discussed some of the struggles of being a female in a predominantly male workforce.

“You can be easily offended,” Portlock said, “you’ve got to learn to roll with the punches.”

She added that the number of females serving in the military has increased since she was a young cadet at the Academy. Women are not only flying daily missions, but are also serving in combat zones.

The meeting also honored Helen B. Troy Educational Award recipients, RSC students Leahanne Frazier, elementary education major, and Shanquilla Vann, respiratory therapist and phlebotomy major. The two students each won $750 for the spring semester.

“It was a great honor to be nominated as a scholarship recipient and enjoy dinner with members of the Zonta Club of Central Oklahoma. The Helen B. Troy Scholarship is a blessing for a young woman like me who is pursuing her education at RSC,” Frazier said. “I’m truly blessed that my math professor [Jim Meyer] gave me the information about the scholarship.”

Vann commented on her anxiety prior to receiving the award, “I prayed for a whole month and half,” she said with a laugh. “It means so much to me. I go to school full-time, I have student loans, I’m a single parent and the fact that I won…I’m just flabbergasted.”

The club meets monthly and supports a variety of community organizations. In addition to working with community members, the group also works to bring awareness to the issue of human trafficking in Oklahoma. The group works with Oklahomans Against Trafficking of Humans (OATH) and hosted a training session for law enforcement professionals in conjunction with RSC.

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