Haul truck driver becomes first female to win local Aviation Scholarship

Driving a haul truck for a Nevada mining company may pay the bills, but one woman’s thoughts turn skyward between moving loads of gold ore. For 26-year-old Raquel Holguin of Elko, one flight lesson 10 years ago sparked a dream of soaring above the earth from which she now makes a living. 

Her dream of becoming a pilot is much closer to reality since being selected on May 17 to receive the 2017 Sauveur and Julie Elizagoyen Memorial Aviation Scholarship. She was one of six applicants last year.

Raquel is the first female recipient of the scholarship established by Norma Elizagoyen shortly before her death in 2013 to honor her husband, Sauveur, and daughter, Julie, both of whom preceded her in death. Father and daughter shared a love of flying.

Raquel had the gumption to make her own way in life, living mostly on her own since she was 16 years old, going to school while working and living paycheck to paycheck. That determination may explain why she never abandoned her belief that she could learn to fly and thereby expand her career opportunities. “It was tough to have to put my dreams on hold,” she said.

Asked about her thoughts on being the first female recipient of the scholarship, Raquel stated simply, “Well, it’s about time,” and laughed. She offered advice to other Elko residents who may be thinking about flying or applying for the scholarship. “Don’t hold back,” she said. “It can’t hurt to do it if that’s your passion.”

Raquel considers earning her private pilot’s license the first step to a career as a commercial pilot. She is open to taking courses from a school of aviation but will probably continue taking flight lessons to improve her skills for now.

After she gets her license, Raquel said that getting more hours in the air will become her top priority. She said she will get a second job if that’s what it takes. “Whenever I get an idea in my head – and I’ve always been this way,” she said, “I’m pretty headstrong about going through with it. Even if it takes years to get it done, it’s still there for me, and I’ll always make it happen. You only get one life and you should be doing what you want.”

About the Sauveur & Julie Elizagoyen Memorial Aviation Scholarship

The Sauveur and Julie Elizagoyen Memorial Aviation Scholarship was established in 2013 by Norma Elizagoyen (1923-2013) in loving memory of her husband and daughter and as a tribute to them and their love for flying.

Sauveur Elizagoyen (1930-2010) immigrated to the United States in 1950 where he worked as a sheepherder in California and Nevada. With hard work and determination, he became a general contractor in 1958 and built many fine homes and businesses in the Elko, Nevada area as well as owning other businesses. In 2004, Sauveur decided to retire his hammer and saw and pursue his passions for flying his airplane, hunting, and fishing.

Julie Elizagoyen (1961-2011) was born in Elko, Nevada and spent most of her life here. She spent time in the ranching industry, then studied and became a dental assistant in California and Nevada. She returned to Elko and spent her remaining years helping with the family business. 

Julie was always taking on challenges. She received her commercial pilot’s license and instrument rating after several years of serious work and study, then helped her father gain his license to fly. 

The family sold the family airplane. After the deaths of Sauveur and later Julie, Norma created this scholarship program to help others realize the passion for flying enjoyed by her husband and daughter. Norma passed away January 12, 2013. However, the legacy of her family and its commitment and love for each other, as well as Sauveur and Julie’s love for flying, will live on with this scholarship, enabling many to enjoy the dream of flying.

The annual scholarship will help those who dream of becoming pilots by paying a portion of the cost of flight instruction and ground school. Applicants must be at least 16 years old and a U.S. citizen residing in Elko County.
Contact Laura Oslund at PACE Coalition with questions or application, 775-777-3451.