Senior Spotlight: Stebbins grad heads to Ohio State on Air Force full-ride, plans to become pilot

Mary Wellmeier is headed to Ohio State University on a full ride through the U.S. Air Force Junior ROTC program. She wants to study aerospace engineering and hopes to be a pilot in the Air Force.  Eileen McClory / Staff

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Mary Wellmeier is headed to Ohio State University on a full ride through the U.S. Air Force Junior ROTC program. She wants to study aerospace engineering and hopes to be a pilot in the Air Force. Eileen McClory / Staff

Mary Wellmeier is headed to Ohio State University on a full scholarship through the U.S. Air Force Junior ROTC program. She wants to study aerospace engineering and hopes to be a pilot in the Air Force.

Wellmeier has been involved with Stebbins High School’s ROTC program and received the Air Force Chief of Staff Flight Academy Scholarship, which allowed her to get her private pilot’s license. She received the J-100 Character in Leadership scholarship, which will cover four years of tuition.

“In ROTC, there’s a lot of opportunities to be a leader and gain experience with that,” Wellmeier said. “You’re always a part of a team in ROTC.”

She is the youngest daughter of Brian and Shower Wellmeier. Her father has retired from the Air Force.

Wellmeier said her love of flying developed when one of her Air Force ROTC instructors, retired Lt. Col. David W. Yunt, took her up in a small plane for the first time when she was 16.

“I just love flying so much, and that’s kind of when I decided that it’s something that I want to do,” she said of the experience.

While she said many of her engineering classes in high school, particularly physics and calculus, were difficult, aerospace engineering would give her the background to better understand how to pilot an aircraft.

“Mary is a goal-driven young lady who sets challenging goals and exceeds them,” said Michael K. Hood, retired Air Force master sergeant and an aerospace science instructor at Stebbins.

Wellmeier is also a violinist for the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and served as the concertmaster for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons. Before deciding she wanted to be a pilot, Wellmeier thought she would be a violinist.

When asked if she was concerned about being a woman in a male-dominated field, she noted more women are being recruited into piloting for the Air Force, and some of the height standards for pilots have been relaxed.

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