BUFFALO, N.Y. — Connor Gleason was a senior at Eden High School this past school year and is WGRZ's STEM Star of the Month for June 2022.
Upon graduation, Connor will be heading to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis with the hope of becoming a pilot in the Navy. And he's already on his way as Connor earned his private pilot's license and joined the Civil Air Patrol all before graduating from his school.
Connor's interest in aviation was sparked by a simple moment on vacation. “That’s a really cool story," said Connor. "When I was four, I went to Disney World and flew on a plane. And I came back and was in the basement with my sisters and we set up a pretend airplane and I was the pilot. So ever since that, I wanted to be a pilot.”
His passion now merges with a call to serve, where Connor is seen as a natural leader by his school Principal Jason Lyons. Lyons described how Connor's leadership capabilities will come in handy going into the military.
“He does things right in school and he treats other people with respect. When he’s on a team, whether he’s in a position of leadership or someone who’s supporting, he’s always supporting his teammates and is really something that is unique. Not all teenagers have that type of capability," said Lyons.
As for getting into one of the military academies, Connor said it was a long and "brutal" process which included writing several essays, a sponsorship from New York State leaders Chris Jacobs and Kirsten Gillibrand, interviews, and a physical fitness test.
“It’s a long process, its pretty brutal but in the end you’re getting one of be best four years of the best education you can get in the U.S.," said Connor.
“A big thing for me was looking at the Naval Academy or Air Force Academy, they take 8 percent of the people that apply. So what could set me in that eight percent of people? Do a lot of students my age have their pilots license, do three sports, involved in this many activities. But a lot of that is your choice," Connor's perspective and experience with successfully earning a spot at the prestigious school. Above all, he wants to encourage young students to be themselves and embrace what makes them unique.
If you know of a student who excels in science, technology, engineering, or math-related fields, nominate them to be the next STEM Star here.