At the age of three, Niki Neigebauer figured out what she wanted to do with her life.
"I thought it was so cool being up in the air and watching all the clouds below us as we were flying," Niki said. "I just thought it was really fun, and I wanted to do that."
So she started on her path to become a pilot. After high school she enrolled at Western Michigan University, a school known for it aviation program. After her first semester she knew she made the right choice.
"I met a whole bunch of pilots, chose a dorm that was with all the aviation students, and met all my friends there. I miss them dearly," Niki said.
While she was flying high at school, life at home hit some unexpected turbulence.
"I got a phone call from my mom saying you're not going to go to college anymore," she said.
Her mother found out that Niki's uncle had stolen her inheritance and sent the family into thousands of dollars worth of debt.
"That money was supposed to go to me to help pay for college," said Niki.
To Niki, the dream of flying professionally was fading away. Without money of her own she was denied financial aid because she didn't have the money needed for an up-front payment. She said she didn't qualify for scholarships either. Niki was running out of options.
"I had to drop out of school, and work. Which I am doing," she said.
Niki works for a private airline atGerald R. FordInternational Airport, which comes with some perks.
"I get a workers discount for the flight school that is there at Grand Rapids," said Niki.
She's now on pace to get her private pilot's license.
"I never thought I'd get that far.. once I left Western," she said.
Niki says she's learned a lot through this process like it doesn't matter what path you take to get to your dream, the trick she said, "Keep going, because the moment you let your dream die is when they will never come true."
Niki said she still plans to go back to college. She's enlisted in the National Guard and plans to attend school after serving her country.