Role models & Mentors

Become a role model or mentor
If you would like to become a role model or mentor, please contact Don Schenk at 
You can also call Don on +1 646 248 3461

Duke Moorosi  

Duke Moorosi started his career as an airline pilot and flew commercially for fifteen years before getting involved in management.  He has been an executive director of airline operations, a vice president of a national airline and managing director of a regional airline.  His aviation career culminated in being appointed by the South African government to the position of chairman of the South African Civil Aviation, a regulatory body on aviation.  Duke sits on several boards as non-executive director and is a member of the Air Safety Panel, a body appointed by the Department of Transport that reviews all aircraft accidents and incidents. One of his recent assignments was as mentor to the SA Express Airways pilot cadet programme.

Sassy N'Diaye 

Sassy N’Diaye was raised in colonial Senegal in a small rural village, and became a senior officer in International Air Transport Association (IATA) and a major force in developing African aviation. Mr. N’Diaye began his aviation career at ASECMA, the Central and West African Aviation Regulatory Agency, where he specialised in the group’s ATC and ATS needs. Mr. N'Diaye was invited to be the Special Assistant to the Director General of IATA for Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East in 1971 and was named IATA’s first Director for Africa and the Indian Ocean in 1977. In the late 1980’s his responsibilities were expanded to include the Directorship of Membership Liaison. He was responsible for convincing many of the world’s largest airlines to join IATA, including Delta AirlinesNorthwest Airlines (now a part of Delta Airlines), US Airways (now a part of American Airlines), Singapore AirlinesCathay PacificKorean AirlinesMalaysian AirlinesAeroflot Russian AirlinesRoyal Air Maroc, and Air Madagascar. In addition, he substantially expanded participation by the African airlines in IATA. He worked to enhance technical cooperation on matters involving safety, promoting the United Nations Commission on Africa in 1989 which led to the Yamoussoukro Declaration, and he was a key liaison between the FAA and Department of Transportation in the United States and African aviation officials on the Safe Skies initiatives. 

Above: Colonel Rama Iyer, South African Air Force Director of Basic Flying Training (left) and Gift Kgadima (right), member of the Aero Club of SA's Transformation and Development team at the SSSA Touring Motor Glider Fly Inn held in Brits in 2015. Image source: PilotsPost. SSSA Touring Motor Glider Fly Inn Brits 2015.

Gift Kgadima (in his own words)

"Aviation is where my heart lies. The only thing which I picture myself doing is flying aerobatics. I have been aspiring to be a pilot since I was in Grade 7, and the love grew even more as I started high school.

I was exposed to aviation at the age of 15. I started by flying model aircraft and participated in several national competitions over the past years. In 2008, I was recognised as a promising aviator and was awarded a full scholarship from the South African Model Aircraft Association (SAMAA) to obtain a Glider Pilot License. I have had the privilege of flying gliders ever since, it has been a life-changing experience, and I hope to continue my chose career path. I have obtained a Gliding License and a Touring Motor Gliding License, which I worked towards over the past couple of years.

Over the past year I managed to obtain my Remote Pilot License (RPL) and have been working as a drone pilot in conservation (for anti-poaching operations) in various National Parks in South Africa, and I am really enjoying the experience. Whilst working I have been saving up to complete my Commercial Pilot License (CPL). My ultimate goal and dream is to fly and compete in a Red Bull Air Race. I’m hopeful that I will work for an airline one day, and then be able to fund my aerobatic career.

Outreach Work

From 2013 to 2015, I worked at my former high school as a part-time model flying instructor. Model aeroplanes was where it all began for me, and I was thankful to be given the opportunity to give back and train high school kids how to fly model aircraft. During that time, I was responsible for the model flying training, packing the bus once a week so we could go to the flying site, and I also organised and managed outings and field trips. This was normally a group of 25 keen aviators, which I engaged with on a weekly basis. One of my former students is today training towards his Private Pilot's License (PPL).

I was also a member of the Aero Club of SA's Transformation and Development team where I was a project manager for a few events. I work with my fellow aviators at a lot of airshows where we conduct delta dart building sessions, such as the annual Girl Fly Programme in Africa Aviation and Aerospace camps, where we assisted and inspired a lot of young aviators. There was also a handful of events, which we attended, various fly-ins within the country and I had the privilege of flying a lot of school children in a real aircraft. I cherish those moments as some of these young pupils had never been in an airplane, and to be the one who made that possible for them is very close to my heart.

Due to my workload over the past year I have not been involved in transportation, transformation and giving back, which is killing me inside, it gives me great joy to give back, as I've always done outreach work. Transportation is close to my heart, and I understand all the struggles and challenges of being in a society where aviation seems like a far-fetched dream. I've been transformed, and because certain individuals believed in me, I've been working towards my goals. Therefore, I want to use what I have to make the dreams of other individuals, like me, become a reality.  

Thenyisa Krishna

Thenysia Krishna was born in Durban and spent most of her life in Benoni Johannesburg. She attended Boksburg High School from which she matriculated in 2009 with a distinction in Travel and Tourism. Ms. Krishna graduated from Standford Business and Computer Design College in Durban in 2013. She also received her cabin crew licence at Skyy Aviation in May 2013, after which she was accepted on a Learnership at CDK Learning Academy. Ms. Krishna’s professional career at Comair Limited began with acceptance by Comair Limited to complete a Workplace Experiential Learning assignment. In 2014, she was offered full-time employment as a Customer Services Agent. In 2015 she was appointed the Ground Staff Uniform Ambassador, and in 2016 she was promoted to a flight attendant position domiciled in Cape Town, which was her dream. 

Keanu Schubert

Keanu Schubert’s life-long goal of helping people has evolved from wanting to teach children, to include wanting to help adults, since she has learned about the aviation industry and how it benefits the world. She entered Comair Limited on a Customer Services Learnership where she was awarded the top student accolade. She was selected as Comair Limited’s second Wonders of Aviation prize winner, and has subsequently been employed by Comair Limited on a full-time basis as a Customer Service Agent at OR Tambo International Airport

Orifha Mbedzi

Orifha Mbedzi lives in Thohoyandou, Venda, which is located in Limpopo. He is currently a senior at the Thohoyandou Technical High School. He uses his affiliation with Wonders of Aviation as one of its award winners to make connections with the industry, and those connections enable him to pursue his dream in spite of the isolation of Thohoyandou. He uses his free time to develop his computer programming skills, which he hopes to use in the aviation industry. Moreover, he keeps his dream of becoming a pilot alive by studying flight training manuals, and engaging with Microsoft's Flight Simulator X. 

Frans Monakisi (in his own words)

"I am 22 years old and have grown up in a township called Mamelodi in Pretoria, South Africa. I'm a poet, writer, motivational speaker, and author, and someone who hopes to become a commercial pilot. I combine my many passions in the motivational speeches I give to the formerly disadvantaged who live in Pretoria. I'm the second of three siblings, and I come from a previously disadvantaged background.

I have always been a dreamer and began writing poetry and short stories in second grade. It was my escape from everything I faced as a child, who was bullied for being fat and different from the other children in Mamelodi. In grade eight, I was selected to be in a program called the US State Department's English Access Microscholarship Program* which enlivened my writing skills and improved my English. I also worked on its magazine called Mzansi Journal Magazine where I met Sam Gibb who was my editor. She believed in my writing and pushed me hard. It was during this period that another mentor, the author of Being Positive in a Negative World, Sy Tshabalala, inspired me and made it possible to publish my first book of poetry, Poet in Me, which is my journey of love, self-discovery and awakening. I am using the profits from the sale of this book to help pay for my flying lessons. Need language for how people can purchase this book.

I am inspired by both the beauty of words and the magic of aviation since I was six years old and my time as a 2014 Award Winner provided me an amazing overview of the complexity and beauty of aviation. That experience has enabled me to tell others about my dreams of combining a commercial airplane pilot career with poetry. I am in the process of applying to law schools and engineering schools, delivering motivational speeches, and mentoring a 2016 Wonders of Aviation Award Winner, who is currently serving in the South African Air Force."  

South Africa: The US State Department's English Access Microscholarship Program
United States Embassy (Pretoria). 3 June 2014. Press release. 

The US State Department's English Access Microscholarship Program, introduced in 2007 in South Africa, offers two years of after-school English language study to underprivileged high school students, this program is administered by the Regional English Language Office in Pretoria. In 2014, for our sixth opening ceremony, 40 students from programs in Ponelopele Oracle Secondary School, Ivory Park and Diepsloot Combined Secondary School, Diepsloot (both schools are in Gauteng, Johannesburg) received the Certificate of Award from the Counselor of Public Affairs as a symbol of encouraging commitment for this two-year long program, the 40 students were also joined by senior Access students in their second year of the program for motivation by reciting poems and the performance of a play based on "Memorial Day and Day of Reconciliation."  Source:

* The English Access Microscholarship Program (Access) provides a foundation of English language skills to talented 13-20 year-olds from economically disadvantaged sectors through after-school classes and intensive sessions. Access gives participants English skills that may lead to better jobs and educational prospects. Participants also gain the ability to compete for and participate in future exchanges and study in the United States. Since its inception in 2004, approximately 95,000 students in more than 85 countries have participated in the Access Program. More information about the US Embassy of South Africa's Scholarships and Exchanges.