Senate Passes Legislation to Rename National Air Grant Fellowship Program After Ethiopian Air 302 Crash Victim Samya Rose Stumo & Honor 347 Lives Lost in 737 MAX-8 Crashes

April 8, 2022

Cantwell-led National Air Grant Fellowship Program was created as part of 2020 aviation safety reform legislation

U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, respectively, applauded Senate passage of legislation to rename the National Air Grant Fellowship Program and to commemorate the 347 lives lost due to the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX-8 crashes. The program would be renamed, the “Samya Rose Stumo National Air Grant Fellowship Program,” in honor of the 24-year old international public health advocate who lost her life three years ago in the March 10, 2019, crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. Next, the legislation will go to U.S. House of Representatives.

“I am grateful for the ongoing advocacy of the Lion Air 610 and Ethiopian Airlines 302 families and share their dedication and commitment to advancing aviation safety for the flying public,” said Sen. Cantwell. “Samya Rose Stumo traveled the world with a purpose — to make it a better place. Her life, along with the other victims of these tragedies, was cut short. As we continue to honor and commemorate their lives and Samya’s sense of purpose, we move one step closer to making the ‘Samya Rose Stumo National Air Grant Fellowship’ program a reality, which will help to improve and shape aviation safety policy, now and into the future.”  

Born in Connecticut and raised in Massachusetts, Samya Stumo was an avid international traveler. As a teenager, she spent a year in Peru as part of a Rotary Youth Exchange. As an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Stumo returned to Peru to study the health needs of rural indigenous people. She then earned a graduate degree at the University of Copenhagen and completed an internship at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health. Stumo booked a seat on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 while on assignment for ThinkWell, a nonprofit healthcare organization based in Washington, D.C. She planned to travel to Kenya and Uganda to establish local offices for ThinkWell’s healthcare initiatives.

“It has now been three years since the tragic crash of Flight ET302 in Ethiopia. My condolences continue to go out to the families of the 157 victims,” Sen. Wicker said. “This legislation commemorates the legacy of one of the victims, Samya Rose Stumo, but is done in honor of all of the fallen passengers. The Stumo family was a driving force behind the bicameral, bipartisan effort to improve aviation safety, which led to the enactment of the Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act and creation of the National Air Grant Fellowship Program.”

In addition to honoring Samya Rose Stumo, the bill recognizes by name and commemorates the lives of the 156 passengers and crew who also died in the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash, the 189 passengers and crew who died in the Lion Air Flight 610 crash on October 29, 2018, and the life of Indonesian diver Syachrul Anto, who died during search and rescue recovery operations in the aftermath of that crash.

“Samya’s selfless dedication to improving the lives of others was inspiring to everyone around her and guides our family’s advocacy for meaningful change each day,” said Michael Stumo, father of Samya Rose. “I thank Chair Cantwell and Ranking Member Wicker for honoring all the victims of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, and for ensuring that Samya’s legacy of service continues through the Samya Rose Stumo National Air Grant Fellowship Program’s mission to invest in young aerospace leaders and improve aviation safety for future generations.”  

In January 2020, Senator Cantwell, along with Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), introduced the National Air Grant Fellowship Program Act of 2020, bipartisan legislation to create one-year paid aerospace policy fellowship roles for graduate and post-graduate students in Congress, at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and in other federal agencies.

The program was enacted into law with the signing of the Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act in December 2020, authorizing $15 million a year for fiscal years 2021 to 2025 to award aerospace policy fellowships.

Under the National Air Grant Fellowship Program, each Fellow spends a year within either a Congressional office that has jurisdiction over the FAA, or within an office at the FAA,  to assist the federal government in keeping pace with changing aviation-related technology and developing aviation safety policy.

The program provides Fellows with valuable educational and professional experiences in the field and will help build a new generation of talent for the FAA and Congress to draw from as they make policy in this space.

Read here for the Samya Rose Stumo National Air Grant Fellowship Program Act of 2022.