SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — “I’m really thankful for this, I thank God every day,” said Chitrani Sharma.

Chitrani Sharma is a junior at Central High School.

She has dreams of working for NASA, so when she found out about a new program at SPS that allow students to work their way to an aviation degree and private pilot license free of charge, she decided to shoot for the stars.

“I applied in January when the pamphlet first came in the letter.”

After going through interviews and health checks, Chitrani didn’t hear anything for a few months, but on her birthday, she received an unexpected surprise.

“I was on a field trip for my birthday and then I got an email and I was like oh I got accepted.”

But the surprises didn’t stop there.

“I was actually taking the EOC at the time and then the principal came in Mr. Brown, and he said ‘Hey do you mind if I borrow Chitrani really quick?’ I was really confused and I had to stop my EOC right then and there I came out and all the SPS staff and the OTC aviation were there and they gave me a lot of gifts,” said Chitrani.

Chitrani said her father had dreams of flying planes back in India and now she hopes to make her father proud by doing the same.

“I’m used to flying in planes and long hours from flying from here to India but knowing how to fly one is a completely unique experience and I’m always up to trying new things, ” said Chitrani.

Corina Bond is the General Manager of the Premier Flight Center and she said over the course of the first semester students will start to familiarize themselves with all things aviation.

“They’ll have aviation field trips kind of around the field to learn all the different areas of aviation and will spend the rest of the day back at their home high school, ” said Bond.

One of the many things that Chitrani and other students will do is practice in a flight simulator. KOLR 10’s Joshua Pineda took a run in the simulator as well.

Chitrani said she already has a few colleges in mind that she wants to go like MIT, Emery, UC Berkeley, and with the Fly SPS program on her resume, she’s excited to see what the future holds.