Dreaming big! JBLM spouse pursues aviation career

By J.M. Simpson on April 9, 2013

Christine Yazzie believes in opening her own door of opportunity.

"Doing something different in your life opens many doors, and for me there is so much to do in aviation," she said as we talked in a classroom at Clover Park Technical College's Aviation Branch at Thun Field.

Yazzie's attraction to aviation began not long after she married SSgt. Shawn Yazzie, a Joint Base Lewis-McChord helicopter mechanic.

"His work got me interested in aviation; my interest has continued to develop, " Yazzie continued.

"Besides, it's great that we can sit and ‘talk shop.' That's really, really nice."

She added that her currently deployed husband is proud of her, and she also credits her children for understanding and supporting her academic work.

"And I keep a clean house," Yazzie added with a smile.

Behind that smile is a formidable intelligence.

While a full time student studying in the aviation maintenance technician program at Clover Park, Yazzie is also taking a full list of classes at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

She has aced or nearly aced every class in a career field not traditionally open to women.

Along the way, Yazzie has earned 16 scholarships and is on final approach to graduate from both institutions in August.

Her goal is to work as an aircraft accident investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board.

"There's plenty of room for women in this career field," Yazzie said. 

Established in 1967, the NTSB is the federal government's primary accident investigation agency for all modes of transportation, particularly those involving aviation.

Yazzie has taken courses in composite work, piloting, avionics, non-destructive testing and everything in between.

"I think I've got to be a generalist to be an excellent accident investigator," Yazzie explained.

"It is this kind of work that I want as my lifetime career."

To further her ambitions and advertise her ability to work for the NTSB, Yazzie was recently selected for a highly prized internship at Boeing.

"It will give me an opportunity to work with composites in the nondestructive evaluation department and avionics," she added.

When asked if she had any advice to those thinking about a career - any career - Yazzie turned and said, "Dream big, work hard and live happy."