Maj. Stephen “Cajun” Del Bagno Scholarship Fund


Type

Scholarship / Fellowship

Value

$30,139 (2021)

Year Established

2019

Purpose

Supporting students at the University who are pursuing careers as pilots and who exemplify the ideals of Major Del Bagno. (GF000386)

Description

This fund will be awarded to students who are U.S. citizens. Applicants must be enrolled at Florida Tech in the College of Aeronautics and must submit an essay on "why you want to fly".  Applicants are reviewed with the National Air, Sea, and Space Foundation (NASSF). Preference will be given to students who graduated from Maj. Del Bagno's high school, Saugus H.S. in Santa Clara, CA.  Preference will also be given to students who have military parents. Funds may be used for tuition and/or flight fees. Applicants may submit a reference letter from the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron ("Thunderbirds"), the 58th Fighter Squadron (Part of the 33rd Fighter Wing currently based at Eglin Air Force Base), or the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron--Eglin AFB at any time before or after admission to Florida Tech.


History

Del Bagno was a member of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. Not long after performing in the 2018 Melbourne air show, the 34-year-old lost his life in a training accident in Nevada.

During the 2019 Melbourne Air & Space Show, patrons were asked to donate toward the Del Bagno Memorial Scholarship at Florida Tech. They were able to purchase raffle tickets, and a portion of ticket proceeds to the show were earmarked for the scholarship fund. The Foundation will seek additional donations at future air shows.

The scholarship funds will help Florida Tech aviation students who have a strong desire to fly but need assistance with tuition and flight fees.

According to the Foundation, Del Bagno started flying when he was 14-years-old and went on to serve as a corporate pilot, skywriter and flight instructor prior to joining the Air Force. During his 11-year career as an Air Force pilot he instructed in two jets, the F-16 and F-35, before joining the Thunderbirds in fall 2017.

Whenever he could, Del Bagno encouraged young people to stick with their dreams, no matter the obstacles.

“The biggest thing I learned throughout my career, and what I tell all of the kids when I start talking to them, is in life, you are going to hear a lot of no’s, and sometimes it’s just a test of your resolve…So no matter what it is and how bad you want it, as long as you work hard and don’t accept no as a final answer, you can always turn a no into a yes.”

Recipients

2019: Gabriella Ferra

2020: Ryan King