Seven MDC Students’ Dreams Take Flight With Aviation Scholarship2020 Timothy E. Johnson Jr. Scholarship Awards

Screen capture of group video call on mobile tablet for the 2020 Timothy E. Johnson Jr. Scholarship Awards

“I want to teach people to reach for the sky by putting them there first,” said Miami Dade College aviation student Peter Hernandez.

Peter is one of seven students who received the 2020 Timothy E. Johnson Jr. Scholarship at the Eig-Watson School of Aviation. In 2019, five students received the award, and, with continued support from the Johnson family, seven students received scholarships this year.

Along with Peter, this year’s student recipients include James Flowers, Tristan Garcia, Bryce Harrison, Erick Lopez, Lily McCarthy, and Gustavo Vallejo. (View a video featuring historic photos and student quotes on Instagram.) Each student received up to $8,000 through the scholarship fund. Since the scholarship’s inception in 2013, 43 students have received support to achieve their dream of becoming pilots.

The Johnson family and many of their close friends virtually gathered to celebrate these seven outstanding aviation students, hosted by Miami Dade College Foundation, on May 31st, the birthday of the late Timothy E. Johnson Jr. for whom this scholarship is named. “Tim loved the feeling of flight as much as the science,” said Carly Miller, Johnson’s wife. His career allowed him to blend his love for flight and to save animals’ lives through the Pilots N Paws program. Johnson passed away in an aviation accident in 2012.

Timothy’s community of family and friends felt moved by each student’s drive and passion for aviation. Timothy Johnson Sr., Timothy’s father, and a Vietnam War veteran, voiced hope for each student’s future through these difficult moments in our history, stating, “Improvise, adapt and overcome,” and spoke on the importance of flight.

The eager scholarship recipients listened intently as they received feedback from legends in their field, including American Airlines pilot Kevin Mase and Johnson’s cousin and pilot Allan Safieh. Timothy’s sister, Nina Johnson, spoke as well, offering this guidance to students: “It is our greatest hope that this scholarship will plant the seed of generosity in each of you and that you will carry that generosity forward as you move through your careers.” (Read Nina’s full message to students.)

The students plan to carry forward the family’s generosity. “Upon graduation from college, I will pursue a career as a commercial pilot. Beyond that, I look forward to teaching my kids and grandchildren about the wonders of flight,” said Hernandez, who graduates in 2022. “My goal is also to bring aviation to others who don’t always have the opportunity.”

For more information about how scholarships impact our students, visit

Written by Chloe Medina, MDC Foundation Digital Marketing Manager