Student Spotlight: Waren Lelewa

Thu Apr 29, 2021 at 09:48 AM

Waren Lelewa

“Imagine how terrible it would be to have a medical emergency, but knowing that to get to the closest clinic it would involve a day’s long walk through jungles, rivers, and steep mountains,” said Waren Lelewa, an international student at Blue Ridge Community College.

Waren Lelewa is from Papua, Indonesia, where he lives with his wife and young son, while working with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), a non-profit organization that aims to help those living in remote areas get medical care, better education for their children, transportation and logistical support of Christian church leaders and missionaries and, to be of service when disasters strike.

“MAF delivers doctors, nurses, medicine, vaccines, and supplies to places where medical care would not otherwise be available,” said Lelewa. “MAF airplanes are often called upon for medical evacuation flights. The sight of an MAF plane landing on a dirt airstrip looks like hope.”

Since his work with the organization began in 2014, Waren’s role is to serve as an aircraft mechanic, which includes inspecting and repairing airplanes if the pilot reported trouble or if the aircraft’s condition is abnormal.

MAF encouraged Waren to further his education by attending Blue Ridge Community College to work towards earning his Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) Certificate. He chose BRCC, as he had already made a connection with a pilot, Peter Santana, from Virginia who had flown his airplane into Papua, Indonesia. It turned out, Peter’s father, Joe, was a substitute instructor within the Aviation Maintenance Program at BRCC. Waren also had another acquaintance, Barry King, whom he met through Bible study class, who was also an Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT) professor at BRCC.

“I am a good person, careful, and disciplined, all of which are needed by a mechanic,” said Lelewa. “I wanted to be a professional and licensed mechanic, so I can do a greater number of things related to aircraft maintenance. In the AMT program, I get theory and practical experience, while also improving my English skills.”

Beginning his educational career at BRCC seemed daunting, as Waren’s native language is Bahasa Indonesia, but he excelled quickly due to his dedication to studying and asynchronous, online class schedule. The visual technology, such as Canvas, the Quick Search within the Library Catalog, SIS, and Zoom all assisted Waren in accomplishing his tasks.

“Asynchronous learning really helped me, as an International student with a time difference of 13 hours between Virginia (Eastern Time) and Papua Indonesia, so I can spend my time, on my schedule, learning all class materials,” said Lelewa. “I love the Center for Academic Vision and Excellence (CAVE). It plays an important role in helping me excel in English.”

Waren’s passion for repairing engines, welding, and other handiwork, has also led him to meet other students studying at BRCC from different countries and backgrounds. He will attend his Practical/Lab in-person in August for the Fall semester and plans to receive his certificate in December 2021.

“BRCC is a good place to study, allowing me to raise my skills and knowledge related to my career and current workplace, while also offering career training,” said Lelewa. “BRCC provides nowadays technology, relevant study materials, and has good teachers to help us succeed in our studies. BRCC also provides many scholarship options to assist students in paying tuition fees.”

While Waren continues preparing for the upcoming semester, he continues his work in Indonesia, just last week, replacing the engine for an airplane that was damaged in a remote location. The aircraft was carrying 1-ton of cargo foods for the people there.

“The project was accomplished, and the aircraft arrived safely to our home base,” said Lelewa.