Photo Gallery


Career Take - Off!

Published: 04/15/2014 by Tegen Dunnill Jones

» Testimonials & Experience

Imagine combining your two greatest passions: helping people and flying. Imagine being able to soar through the sky to provide medical aid to those who would otherwise go without. Imagine being a flying doctor, who is not limited by ground travel but who can deliver medical help in remote areas.

That is my dream. Homeschooling and the Air Cadet Program have played pivotal roles in helping me work towards this goal. Like many homeschoolers, I first started my formal education in the traditional brick and mortar school system but it wasn’t a good fit for me. I was homeschooling by Grade 3. While it was initially very different, I enjoyed the diverse range of activities and opportunities that were available during the day: choir, gym, swimming, Girl Guides, language lessons, art classes, skiing, writing workshops and volunteering to name just a few.


Homeschooling gave our family the flexibility to travel, which was very important to us. I learned about the Middle Ages by visiting castles in the UK. Visiting Lower Fort Garry in Manitoba taught us about the fur trade; the Metis resistance at Batoche National Historic Site, SK; the war of 1812 at Fort George, ON; French culture in Quebec City; Acadians in NS; mining in Sudbury, ON; hydroelectricity at Niagara Falls and Canadian Confederation at Confederation House in Charlottetown, PEI.


We took my grandfather on a trip to the Grand Canyon where seeing the California Condors, an endangered species and the largest birds in North America, was a highlight for me. We explored heritage sites such as Mesa Verde, CO, and Chaco Culture, NM.


One of the main lessons I learned from homeschooling was to set goals. When I was 10, the local Girl Guide office needed a girl with daytime availability to present flowers to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I was honoured to be asked. After I did the presentation I was invited to join in the luncheon for a number of local youth receiving their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards. I set myself a goal to earn the Gold Award one day. This spring I will achieve this goal. 


I became involved in the Air Cadet Program after visiting my cousin at the Canadian Forces base in Cold Lake. While visiting him, I noticed that there were girls on the base! I had never been interested in the program but seeing these girls in their combat fatigues really opened my eyes. My cousin said they were taking Survival Training and that really sparked my interest. I decided to check out Air Cadets that fall and discovered the range of opportunities available. I could do Biathlon and Marksmanship, in addition to Survival Training, which I had been introduced to in Junior Forest Wardens.


I was given opportunities to fly in gliders, and maybe, just maybe, eventually get my power pilot licence. Within a few months I took my first flight in a Cessna 172 and really enjoyed myself. In the meantime, I competed in a few biathlon competitions. Through Biathlon Canada I earned by Bronze Officiating qualification, which helped me be selected to officiate at the 2013 National Cadet Biathlon and receive recognition as Top Staff Cadet. I worked on my marksmanship and received summer training to be an air rifle coach.


Eventually I was old enough to apply for the Glider Pilot Scholarship. It was a lot of very hard work studying ground school, writing exams and being interviewed. My dedication paid off, I was selected, and in August, 2012, I received my Glider Pilot wings.


By the time I reached Grade 12, I had several years of experience in a wide range of educational setting, from distance learning to online learning, independent study, and traditional high school face-to-face classes. Like most teens starting Grade 12, I was beginning to think about career paths. I’ve always been passionate about helping people. I’d earned my Standard First Aid Certification through a homeschool class at the age of 12 and I’d kept my certification current to ensure that my knowledge and skills were up to date.


But I had this new interest in aviation. So, why not combine the two and be a flying doctor! I checked out this idea and discovered that in remote areas, such as the Canadian North, access to medical care is severely limited. Being able to fly would give me the ability to bring aid to people in need. I realized medical school would occupy much of my future, so I set a goal of getting my power pilot licence before going to university.


Back I went for another round of ground school, exams and interviews. With a very clear direction and purpose, and the valuable first-hand experiences in piloting glider aircraft, I was selected for the Private Power Scholarship. In August 2013 I earned my Private Power wings and am qualified to fly single engine aircraft. I maintain my gliding abilities through the Air Cadet Gliding Program, based in Vulcan, Alberta. I give familiarization glider flights to cadets, many of whom have never flown in a glider.


I am actively working on gaining enough powered flight time to be able to also offer cadets introductory flights in powered aircraft. The Power Pilot Scholarship has brought me one step closer to my dream of becoming a flying doctor. A financial bursary from the Air Cadet League of Canada has allowed me to continue to develop my powered flight skills. I have also been fortunate to received support from the Soaring Association of Canada and Alberta Soaring Council to pursue gliding at sites such as Chipman, Cowley and CuNim Gliding Centre.


Homeschooling first introduced me to many skills that I have continued to develop in Air Cadets. Through both I have developed leadership, timemanagement, teamwork and instructional skills, as well as valuable life skills such as being interviewed and speaking in public. Homeschooling created a solid education foundation and the Cadet Program has given me the opportunity to continue to

develop as a citizen and as an individual.


Today, I am studying Biomedical Science at the University of Calgary. This summer I will be a member of the Flying Doctors of Canada’s ‘Doctors of Tomorrow’ project in El Salvador assisting with the operation of a medical clinic, run health, education and development projects.


At cadets, I am Warrant Officer 2nd Class and Squadron Commander of 952 ‘WestJet’ Royal Canadian Air Cadets. In my role, I take on many leadership duties. These include instructing classes on a weekly basis, leading my cadets on parade, and organizing extracurricular activities. I also coach a drill team and officiate at biathlon competitions.


Upon aging out of the program at the end of April, I intend to become a member of the Cadet Instructor Cadre, which allows me to give back to the program from which I have gained so much. Through my experiences as a homeschooler and a cadet, I have learned to set goals, explore opportunities and follow my passions. I encourage all youth to do these things. You never know where it will take you. As I found out, the sky is not my limit, it is my doorway.