A few summers ago, Marla Faison’s brother and father were fishing in the Albemarle Sound when their boat experienced trouble in open water and eventually they needed help. Luckily, a US Coast Guard station was nearby and one of their helicopters saved them from danger. It was then and there that Marla gained interest in Aviation.
As a child, Marla grew up flying to and from Charlotte to the Carolina Panthers game with her father, in a Mooney Aircraft. She sat in the co-pilot seat and eventually, their pilot let her take the controls. From there, Marla instantly fell in love with flying and wanted to become a pilot.
Fast forward to her graduation from high school and the inevitable college choice decision. She decided to follow a traditional path, and enrolled at Meredith College, in Raleigh, NC, taking general college courses. She enjoyed her freshman year of learning, but as she says, there was something missing.
“I loved the city of Raleigh, and the great friends I met there; however, I was homesick and had an urge to fly that I picked up as a young, Carolina Panther fan. Not to mention, I live across the river from the Elizabeth City Coast Guard station, so every time I saw a helicopter, my heart and mind went back to that fateful day. And my dream as a pilot, resurfaced.”
“And then, near the end of that year, I was home in Camden, NC for a weekend and was reminded that the University I grew up around---- Elizabeth City State University---- offered the only undergraduate aviation degree available in N.C., and that I could learn how to fly for free and get a super grounding in all the general college subjects that make us truly educated. I could get a degree and fulfill my dream to fly! “
“So, I applied, got accepted, and transferred to ECSU. And with the assistance and guidance of Professor Robin Mangham, I decided to major in Aviation Science and minor in Air Traffic Control. As I continued my education in flight, locally, I realized my biggest weakness was being confident enough to talk to the controllers at Charlotte or Atlanta. I knew that minoring in Air Traffic Control would give me a great advantage on the language and help me better understand how our air spaces are monitored and managed. It’s the best training I could possibly hope for. “
Scheduled to graduate in 2014, Marla, at only 21 years old, has started a family of her own, without taking any time off from school. She has been inducted into the National Collegiate Society of Leadership and Success and begun an entrepreneurial venture in Elizabeth City that she will own and manage after graduation. In the fall, she plans to attend Embry Riddle Aeronautical University online to earn her Master’s Degree in Aviation Science.
“I’ve started a business here in Elizabeth City and my dream is to get that going and self-sustaining and then continue my dream to fly by earning my commercial flying license, where I’ll fly for a living. I would also love the opportunity to come back to ECSU and be an Aviation Science lecturer one day. I’m excited by the possibilities that my time at ECSU has opened up for me!”
Favorite place on campus: Air Traffic Control Lab
Professor who has influenced you the most:Professor Robin Mangham, Aviation Science and Air Traffic Control
Advice for other students: Do things for yourself, not for the satisfaction of others.