Samohi junior and scholarship winner, Claire Goldberg (left), receiving her award from Joe Justice, principal donor. (Photo courtesy Kambiz Taleghani)

SMO —Claire Goldberg, a junior at Santa Monica High School, was announced the winner of the Flying Scholarship for Girls Joe Justice award, which affords her the opportunity to get her pilot’s license.

Goldberg received her award at a ceremony at Santa Monica Airport on Saturday March 22. Clara Glassman (12th grade) was the first alternate and Kiana Saberi (12th grade) was the second alternate.

Flying Scholarship for Girls is a Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM)-related effort designed to encourage high school girls to explore opportunities in aviation and aerospace, by helping them realize their dream of learning to fly.

Samohi junior and scholarship winner Claire Goldberg (left) receiving her award from Joe Justice, principal donor. (Photo courtesy Kambiz Taleghani)

A small group of volunteers got together to create the scholarship. Funds are solicited through fundraisers and online at Each award is named after the main contributor. The Joe Justice Award was made possible through flight instruction time donated by Joe Justice, owner of Santa Monica-based flight school Justice Aviation. The plane to be used was donated from Kelar Aviation.

The winner of the scholarship receives 40 hours of airplane and instruction time during a 30-month period.

Although a Light Sport Pilot’s license is the stated objective of the scholarship, the students learn about aerodynamics, theory of flight, meteorology, geography, navigation, propulsion systems and other aspects of aviation.

The scholarship was announced last November, and Samohi candidates in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades submitted their applications online last December. After review by a panel of judges and reviewers, five finalists were selected. The finalists underwent personal interviews at the Museum of Flying by a panel of judges, which included a girl from another high school who has been learning how to fly.

“The Samohi girls submitted some incredible essays,” said Kambiz Taleghani, one of the organizers of the scholarship. “They had to state why they wanted to be pilots, provide insights about themselves, and express their aspirations. An applicant from an East African country wants to be a role model for other females in her country. Another applicant has already visited NASA’s Johnson Space center in Houston as an intern and wants to be an astronaut. One finalist is already on her path to becoming an industrial designer for automobiles and aircraft. The winner’s aspirations include journalism and serving the country as a congresswoman — and remember, these are all high school girls.”

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