The Forum takes flight with first Latina pilot, Olga Custodio

Custodio to inspire the students of UWEC to never give up on their dreams

Jenna Erickson

More stories from Jenna Erickson

Eau Claire eats
April 2, 2020

Photo by Submitted

Olga Custodio was the first Latina woman to serve as a fighter pilot and will soon be a Forum speaker.

Students from all walks of life step foot on the UW-Eau Claire campus on any given day. 

Olga Custodio will soon be one of those people stepping foot on campus, as she opens the 2019-20 season of The Forum — an effort to make the college a “cultural center,” according to the UW-Eau Claire website.

Custodio, the first Latina woman to complete U.S. Air Force military pilot training and serving as a fighter pilot, according to the UW-Eau Claire website, will present “An Evening with Olga Custodio” at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 19 in Schofield Auditorium.

Custodio, who is now retired, has become an inspirational speaker to motivate women and girls to pursue male-dominated professions, according to The American Program Bureau.

Before becoming a motivational speaker, Custodio became the first Latina commercial pilot for American Airlines and, since retiring from her 20-year post as an airline captain, she has also become the first female flight instructor at two major U.S. Air Force bases, according to the UW-Eau Claire website.

“In 2017, she became the first Latina inducted into the San Antonio Aviation and Aerospace Hall of Fame,” according to APG website

The Senate of Puerto Rico has recognized Custodio twice as an “outstanding and exemplary citizen,” according to the APG website. 

With her indomitable spirit, dedication to country and service and commitment to inspiring the next generation and women around the world, she energizes audiences everywhere as a motivational and leadership speaker with her personal journey and professional accomplishments, according to the APG. 

She believes in the phrase, “If you want something to happen, you have to go out and get it,” according to the APG website, and uses this quote to potentially motivate everyone to overcome obstacles and never stop believing in their dreams.

The Forum maintains a tradition of being one of the longest continuous programs of its kind in the United States, according to the university website. It is made possible by student fees allocated by the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate.

The Forum is committed to the concept of non-discrimination as related to race, creed, sexual orientation, age and physical disability, according to the UW-Eau Claire website.

For more information about The Forum series, check out the UW-Eau Claire website to find out more about future speakers visiting UW-Eau Claire. 

Erickson can be reached at [email protected]