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Inspire: The sky’s the limit for Kaylen Roy, aspiring pilot and dedicated volunteer

The Markstay resident credits the Air Cadets for many opportunities during her high school years

The sky’s the limit for 18-year-old Kaylen Roy as she pursues her dream of becoming a commercial pilot and sets out on the path to achieving her goals.

Roy was just five years old when she fell in love with flying on a family vacation to Jamaica.

“I couldn’t believe how beautiful the sky was,” she said. “It was incredible to coast high above the clouds. I knew right then and there I wanted to fly planes when I grew up.”

After spending her early childhood in Hagar, Roy and her family now reside in Markstay. Her mother, Michelle, is an educational assistant and her father, Jason, is a worker representative at Vale. 

Older sister, Kristen, 20, is currently fulfilling a school placement at Health Sciences North to become an x-ray technologist. Younger brother, Benjamin, 10, loves outdoor activities.

A 2021 graduate of É.s. du Sacré-Coeur, Roy will be attending Fanshawe College this fall. “I’m so excited about entering their Aviation Program Norton Wolf School of Aviation and Aerospace Technology.”

It will be her first time living away from home. “An exciting new chapter in my life!” she said.

Although Roy hasn’t yet decided, she will either aim for a career as a trans-Atlantic airline pilot or remain closer to home and join the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry flying water bombers. “Actually, I’d love to do both!” she said.

That’s where the planning comes in. Roy looks forward to exploring all career options during her three years at Fanshawe.

“I also believe it’s important to get advice from seasoned professionals,” she said. “I plan to seek out mentorships because that’s one of the best ways to prepare yourself for a career—learning from others’ experiences, both positive and negative.”

Roy made a solid start to that process when she became an Air Cadet. 

At 14, she joined the local branch of the 200 Wolf Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron.

“My best friend really enjoyed being a member and so I decided to give it a try, too,” she said. “Cadets has been so fun, and I’ve gained valuable insights into aviation and the many different career options in that field.”

Until that time in her life, Roy’s biggest passion was hockey.

“My parents have volunteered in the sport for many years, and Kristen and I loved playing hockey with my dad and travelling to tournaments with our family,” she said. “I hope I can find time to get back into the game while I’m away at college.”

Roy has in fact participated in solo and team sports her whole life, everything from hockey to cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. Since becoming a cadet, she has particularly excelled in individual and team marksmanship, as well as biathlon competitions.

Thanks to hunting excursions with her father, uncle and grandfather, Roy is already an experienced marksman. “My sister and I have our hunting licences and we always look forward to spending quality family time on those trips.”

When it comes to flying, friends and members of extended family also share Roy’s passion. Some have their private pilot’s licence and have taken her on flights. She has even had the opportunity to visit the airport tower where her cousin works as an air traffic controller. “They’re all such an inspiration to me.”

At Air Cadets, Roy has many opportunities to explore her lifelong interest in aviation. “I’ve gained so much knowledge about the industry and that has only fuelled my desire to become a pilot,” she said.

“Cadets teaches you the values of discipline, leadership and teamwork. It builds a person’s self-confidence and nurtures our creativity and independence.”

Roy’s dedication and skills recently earned her the position of flight sergeant, an impressive accomplishment for a cadet who has been with the organization barely four years. But, dedication and determination are ingrained in her personality.

Community service is truly a family affair for the entire Roy family. “I’m particularly inspired by my parents’ commitment to providing foster care to children,” she said. 

And, like her parents, she is also very involved in the community.

As a high school student, Roy combined her love of hockey with teaching local kids how to skate. It was a natural choice in accumulating the curriculum’s mandatory 40 hours of volunteer work. 

She has, however, far exceeded that requirement, having served more than 200 hours. 

“I especially enjoyed volunteering at a church leadership camp and being so active in Cadets,” she said.

With the Air Cadets, Roy has assisted with annual sales of Ontario Provincial Committee (OPC) lottery tickets. 

She has tagged and bagged groceries for customers at area supermarkets and worked several fundraisers. All activities support the Air Cadets and contribute to the local squadron’s programs.

The OPC is a volunteer-driven organization in partnership with the Canadian Armed Forces. Together, they support over 9,000 Canadian youth develop leadership skills and build lifelong relationships to prepare for a future in aviation. 

In 2019, Roy applied to NAV Canada. “One of the best weeks of my life!” she said.

Inspiring young leaders at Explore Aviation Summer Camp for the chance to participate in their inaugural summer traing for girls interested in pursuing careers in the field of aviation.

Her powerfully convincing essay and strong letters of support describing her longstanding passion for flying and helping others earned Roy a place as one of 30 Canadian teenagers to attend the training.

“It was a terrific week. We operated flight and tower simulators and got to fly in a Cessna aircraft. I came away knowing one hundred percent that I wanted to pursue a career in aviation,” she said.

Roy also came away with lasting friendships with teens from every province. “We learned so much at camp and share the same passion and goals. It’s cool to stay in touch via social media,” she said.

With the pandemic impacting so many lives and job opportunities, Roy also feels fortunate to have earned a summer student placement with the Univi Health Centre Univi, assisting with community programs at their Alban-Nöelville-St.-Charles-Warren medical and vaccine clinics. 

“I enjoy helping people and gaining knowledge about the health-care field. It gets me thinking about more options in aviation, perhaps even aerospace medicine!” she said.

There’s just no stopping this young woman.

Paul de la Riva, director of communications and external relations with Conseil scolaire catholique Nouvelon, may have described her best: “Kaylen Roy, despite her young age, has a profile that is both unique and impressive. For her, adventure is part of her daily life. Limits are not part of her vocabulary as this student is ready to face all obstacles. An opportunity presents itself… Kaylen is there!”

Kaylen Roy’s Words of Inspiration

Whatever your goals are, don’t give up and don’t let people tell you what you cannot do. They have no idea what you can or cannot do. As long as you try your best, you can accomplish your goals.

Follow your dreams and passions. Seek out people who will help you rather than judge you. They won’t bring your spirits down. You can achieve what you want in life, as long as you try your best—you can do it!

Once you’ve decided what career path you want to follow, it’s truly beneficial to seek advice, guidance and mentorship from people already working in that field. Learning from others’ experiences is one of the best ways to give yourself direction preparing for the future.

Marlene Holkko Moore is a local communications professional and occasional contributor to Sudbury.com.