Professional Pilot student Allix Huggan couldn’t have imagined a better start to her collegiate career. The 20-year-old sophomore from Moore, Oklahoma, hit the ground running, both academically and athletically, earning a 4.0 GPA in the classroom and accolades as a coxswain for the OU Rowing Team.
In July, Huggan was named to the 2019-2020 Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team. Nominated by each institution's director of student-athlete support services, student-athletes on the Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team must be new, first-time/incoming freshmen who have completed 24 semester hours of non-remedial coursework and achieved a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0.
Huggan was one of 10 student-athletes from OU nominated with a perfect 4.0 GPA.
“I really appreciate all the opportunities OU gave me throughout my freshman year,” Huggan said. “Getting to be a part of the rowing team really gave me a supportive family whose hardworking attitude made classes and flying a lot more manageable.
“Having mentors from Women in Aviation and a ton of help from all of the School of Aviation Studies’ certified flight instructors has really made the airport my favorite classroom.”
From the moment she arrived on the Norman campus in Fall 2019 as a freshman, Huggan set high standards for herself, and she has met or exceeded them on the water and in the classroom.
As the daughter of an Air Force pilot, Huggan and her family moved 10 different times as she was growing up, including stops in Atsugi, Japan, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Panama City Beach and Jacksonville, Florida, and, finally, Moore.
She first toured OU during her junior year at Westmoore High School and decided then that OU was where she wanted to pursue a college degree.
“I went to a Shell’s Girls Engineering Day at OU,” Huggan said. “I loved the atmosphere of support when I was at the university. To me it seemed that OU not only cared about giving you a degree, but they also cared about supporting you throughout the rest of your future.”
She studied the variety of opportunities that OU has to offer incoming students before finally making the decision to pursue an education to become a professional pilot.
“Even though my dad is a pilot, and I grew up on military bases, it wasn’t until my senior year that I realized being a pilot was something I could do for my degree,” she said. “I got to visit OU’s Max Westheimer Airport, and everyone who I met was extremely kind. Since I grew up on multiple military air stations, the airport felt like home. I decided OU’s aviation program was the best place for me because of how supportive everyone in the program is to the students.
“OU’s Women in Aviation group reached out to me and even gave me a mentor before I started the program. I feel OU really cares about their students and where students will go after OU. Their lessons are all laid out, and each student has a CFI (certified flight instructor) that really cares about teaching their students to be safe and well-trained aviators.”
It was during this time that Huggan also met the person who would help her pursue her other great passion as a coxswain for the OU Rowing Team.
“The first time I ever saw rowing, it was on the TV for the Olympics,” she said. “I thought it was a wonderful sport, but realized I was not six foot and assumed it was something I would never be able to participate in. While attending a Halliburton Women’s Welcome to OU event, I met my friend Kelly who had a sister on the rowing team and explained to me about a position called a coxswain. After hearing about this position, I was extremely excited and decided to go meet the coaches with Kelly. I tried out and was so excited to have the opportunity to be a part of such an incredible and hardworking team.”
As a coxswain, Huggan acts as a coach within the boat. The coxswain sits in the stern of the boat and has microphone that relays their voice throughout the vessel. While on the water a coxswain is the only person sitting forward.
“My job first and foremost job is steering the boat with the rudder,” she said. “I also make calls to tell which seats to row and for how many strokes. This helps with maneuvering the boat and also sticking to the training regimen and race plan assigned by the coaches. The coxswain is usually heard yelling calls that help coordinate the power and rhythm of the rowers.
“The rowers work extremely hard, and at the end of the day, a coxswain is there to help make sure the rowers have the best and safest environment to perform in. When racing, if a coxswain sees another boat making a move, it is their job to make a call and relate that to the rowers. Since the rowers cannot see the other boats in that moment, they are trusting that the coxswain will give them the best call, so that they can apply everything they have practiced. The team at OU has such a wonderful environment, and I have really appreciated how much the varsity coxswains have taken me under their wing and taught me about rowing.”
Huggan has proven to be a quick study at the position and was chosen as one of 10 novices, and the only coxswain, to join OU’s varsity rowing team at their winter training camp at the Chula Vista U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Site.
“It was an incredible learning experience and a great opportunity for me to meet and hear the stories of extremely accomplished athletes,” she said.
Huggan officially earned her private pilot’s license earlier this month, an accomplishment delayed by the arrival of COVID-19, and she is eager to begin the next step of her academic and athletic careers.
“I am looking forward to helping with Women in Aviation and the events they sponsor throughout the year,” she said. “I would like to continue finding ways to increase outreach for other women who might not realize aviation is a career option for them. In the spring, I am hoping to start instrument training. I know this will be challenging, but I am extremely excited to learn from my CFIs.
“I am also really excited to get back in the boat with my team and build on everything I experienced last year.”
To learn more about the programs OU’s School of Aviation Studies has to offer, visit pacs.ou.edu/aviation. For more information about additional academic opportunities offered by OU Extended Campus, visit pacs.ou.edu.