Amelia Earhart Fellowship 1938-2021

Amelia Earhart, an American aviation pioneer and author, was the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Amelia joined the Zonta Club of Boston in 1928. At the time of her disappearance, she had been a member of the Zonta Club of New York since 1930.

Right: Amelia Earhart with fellow Zontians in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1933.

In July 1937, while attempting to be the first pilot to circle the world by air at the equator, Amelia disappeared over the Pacific Ocean. A scholarship in her name was suggested the next year and approved in 1939.

It took two years to find a single qualified applicant. In 1940, Rose Elizabeth Lunn received the first Amelia Earhart Scholarship. She was working toward a doctorate degree in aeronautical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

With considerable conviction, I resolved at age 7 to attend MIT, and the attainment of this goal in spite of serious and unexpected financial reverses has been the result of one stroke of good luck after another, of which the award of the Zonta Amelia Earhart Scholarship is the most outstanding.

In 1949, Amelia Earhart Day was established and it was agreed that recipients of the Amelia Earhart Scholarship would receive a simple yet suitable emblem, pin or medal.

In 1957, Annelore Stumpfig was the first scholarship winner to study outside of the United States. She was enrolled at the Institute of Technology, Munich, Germany.

Under the leadership of Past International President Helen Pearce, the Amelia Earhart Scholarship became the Amelia Earhart Fellowship in 1964.

Sharon Langenbeck received the AE Fellowship in 1977 and 1978 while studying for her Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Missouri.

In 1979, Sharon moved to California to work at the Lockheed-California Company and joined her local Zonta club in September. In 1988, she was appointed to the International Amelia Earhart Fellowship Committee and four years later she became only the sixth chairman of the committee. At that time, she recommended the committee be comprised solely of Amelia Earhart Fellows and that has remained to this day.

In 2020, Sharon became Zonta International's president. She is the first AE Fellow to be elected to the position.

The current amount of US$10,000 was approved in 2008.

  • 1984 -2007: US$6,000
  • 1979-1983: US$5,000
  • 1976-1978: US$4,000
  • 1970-1975: US$3,000
  • 1959-1969: US$2,500
  • 1953-1956: US$1,200
  • 1948-1952: US$1,000
  • 1940-1947: US$500

Since the program's inception, Zonta International has presented 1,638 fellowships, totaling more than US$10.6 million, to 1,209 fellows from 73 countries.

The AE Fellowship Program enables these women to move beyond the constraints of their birth to study at an advanced level abroad. AE Fellow alumnae have gone on to become astronauts, aerospace engineers, professors, planetary scientists, business owners, CEOs, university chancellors, Secretary of the Air Force, director of Carnegie Observatories, and director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute.

The AE Fellowship is funded by donations to the Zonta Foundation for Women.