An expert in aviation and meteorology, Debbie M. Schaum has thrived as the associate chair of applied aviation sciences at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She has served the school for the past 22 years, and has remained steadfast in her goal of opening the doors of the field to more women. In her role with the institution, she is responsible for overseeing four majors in the applied aviation sciences department, including commercial space operations, air traffic management, aerospace, and occupational safety and meteorology, and teaching meteorology classes. Ms. Schaum particularly loves the fact that that the job allows her to build lasting relationships with students, and she intends to continue on that path moving forward. One of her main concerns is making air space safer.
Initially, Ms. Schaum started her career as a member of the ROTC, where she created a scholarship program for students. She proceeded to become a major in the U.S. Air Force whose primary duty was working as a meteorologist. These experiences opened the doors for the work she does today, and were the keys to her longevity and success. Ms. Schaum feels they gave her an innate understanding of students’ needs, and allowed her to act as a role-model to a demographic that is traditionally under-represented in the field. In addition to her work in higher education, she also volunteers her time with elementary, middle, and high school students, and introduces them to the real-world benefits of mathematics and science. She shows them the importance of endeavors like meteorology in the hopes of getting them interested in pursuing the field.
Ms. Schaum prepared for her professional journey by earning a Master of Arts in management from Webster University in 1987 and a Bachelor of Science in atmospheric sciences from the University of Missouri System in 1997. She remains on top of advancements in her field through her participation in the University Aviation Association.
When Ms. Schaum isn’t working, she enjoys hosting international exchange students and volunteering as a mentor for foster children and the physically challenged. If she could offer some advice to the younger generations, it would be to set goals and never give up.