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First Latina military pilot Olga Custodio to receive 2022 Hispanic Heritage STEM Award

WASHINGTON, DC – August 18, 2022 – The Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) announced today that Olga Custodio, the first Latina military pilot fighter qualified, a trailblazer in military and commercial aviation, will receive the 2022 STEM Award (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) Award during the 35th Annual Hispanic Heritage Awards. The historic program, which was created by the White House to commemorate the establishment of Hispanic Heritage Month in America, is among the highest honors by Latinos for Latinos and supported by 40 national Hispanic-serving institutions. Presented by TARGET with Official Broadcast Sponsorship by Nationwide, and hosted by Google, the 35th Annual Hispanic Heritage Awards will air Friday, September 30th on PBS stations and stream on and the PBS Video app. Custodio will be recognized alongside recently announced Honorees Daddy Yankee, Los Lobos, and Marvel Studios’ Victoria Alonso, with additional Latino artists and visionaries to be announced shortly.

“The Hispanic Heritage Foundation is honored to recognize the trailblazing achievements of Olga Custodio and present what is possible to our youth especially to young Latinas,” said Jose Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO, HHF.  “Her representation in the military and aviation is a powerful statement on the value the Latino community provides our country and beyond.  We are thrilled to tell her story through our partnership with PBS, sponsors and co-hoss and celebrate our community’s accomplishment, cultural pride, and great promise.”

Olga Custodio is a Latina military and commercial airline pioneer with over 40 years in aviation.  As the first Latina to complete U.S. Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training and graduate in the top 5% of her class, Olga went on to fly numerous types of military aircraft and become an instructor pilot. After transitioning from active duty to the US Air Force Reserves, Olga continued to break barriers by becoming the first American Airlines Latina commercial pilot reaching the airline rank of Captain with a 20-year career.  She retired from the US Air Force Reserves with the advanced officer rank of Lt Colonel.