America's First African American Female Combat Pilot to Speak at Ashford University Graduation Ceremony

Graduation Ceremony Expected to be Largest in Ashford's History

Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour, America’s first African American female combat pilot, will present the keynote address during Ashford University’s fall 2011 graduation ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 22.

The ceremony is expected to be the largest in Ashford’s history with about 1,200 students planning to travel to Clinton, IA to receive their diplomas. Traveling with those graduates will be another 5,000-5,500 guests from across the United States and several other countries.

An open house for graduates will be held on campus on Friday, Oct. 21 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., with the graduation ceremony set for 1 p.m. the next day at Ashford’s new athletic complex located at 1650 S. 14th St., Clinton. 

Known simply as “FlyGirl,” Vernice Armour went from beat cop to U.S. Marine Corps combat pilot in three years. Within a year she found herself flying over the deserts of Iraq, supporting the men and women on the ground. 

Upon completion of two tours in Iraq and leaving the military, Armour leveraged her "breakthrough mentality" and launched VAI Consulting and Training, LLC. By applying her seven-step process – the Zero to Breakthrough™ Success Plan – to her own company, Armour produced over six figures in revenue within the first 12 months.

She has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, The Tavis Smiley Show, and other television programs.

An honorary doctorate of laws was conferred on Armour from Chancellor University in 2010. She has also received awards as a pioneering pilot, including her commanding role in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). She was the first African American woman on the Nashville Police Department's motorcycle squad, the 2001 female athlete of the year for San Diego’s Camp Pendleton, two-time titleholder in Camp Pendleton's annual Strongest Warrior Competition, and a running back for the San Diego Sunfire women's professional football team. Her signature book, Zero to Breakthrough™ (Penguin) went on sale nationwide on April 28, 2011.


About Ashford University

Founded in 1918, Ashford University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association (  The University offers graduate and undergraduate degree programs online and at its Clinton, Iowa, campus.  The University is known for its high quality yet highly affordable online and on-campus programs.  For more information, please visit or call Shari Rodriguez, associate vice president of Public Relations, at 858.513.9240 x2513.