It’s hard to pinpoint what the most important job in the world is. Brain surgeons, rocket scientists, physicists, intelligence agents and world leaders have very significant positions. But there is one job that many of us have that is immeasurably rewarding, despite its non-existent paycheck—being a parent. It’s not an easy job, especially when you have to juggle all of your other responsibilities with it. This Father’s Day, we’re celebrating one of our own students who is working especially hard, both at home and in school, to build a brighter future for his family.

Being a devoted family man has new meaning for Thomas Dekenipp ’19, a 30-year old Vaughn College engineering major who will be celebrating his first Father’s Day this month. Dekenipp and his girlfriend, Jaime, welcomed their daughter, Harper, last November and Dekenipp said being a dad is the greatest gift he could ever receive.

“I come from a large family,” Dekenipp said. “We all grew up in the same apartment building in Brooklyn, which kept us very close. So, it means so much to me to be starting my own family.”

After high school, Dekenipp enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he worked for six years as a helicopter mechanic in the 82nd Airborne Division. “I didn’t realize I had an interest in engineering until I joined the Army,” Dekenipp explained. “The Army opened doors for me and sparked an interest to seek a degree when I returned stateside.” Dekenipp completed two tours in Afghanistan and was honorably discharged in 2011. Soon after, he decided to return to Afghanistan to work for the next 18 months as a contractor. Upon returning, Dekenipp wanted to pursue his degree under the GI Bill, but realized he needed to find a school that offered the Yellow Ribbon Program―a provision of the GI Bill that can help students attend private colleges at little or no cost―to help cover the additional tuition expenses. That’s how he found Vaughn College. Dekenipp is now a junior at Vaughn, where he is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering technology and computer-aided design, and feels grateful to have the opportunity to further his career. “Attending Vaughn was a nice transition from the military,” said Dekenipp. “There’s a good number of vets who attend Vaughn so I feel right at home. The faculty is welcoming and is extremely supportive in helping their students further their success.”

With his first Father’s Day around the corner, Dekenipp said he’s been reflecting on past Father’s Day’s with his own dad. Dekenipp recalls how his dad loved to cook and can remember the wonderful aromas emanating from the kitchen while music played in the background. “It was a very warm and welcoming feeling,” Dekenipp recalls. “I’m excited to recreate those memories for Harper. I only want the best for my family,” Dekenipp said humbly. “I’m confident my degree from Vaughn will set me on a path to success to give them a beautiful life. It’s important to me to set a good example for my daughter,” he continued.

When asked what his plans are for Father’s Day, Dekenipp laughed and said Jaimie is keeping it a surprise. “Whatever we do, I know I’ll be surrounded by my amazing family. I’m blessed to be a dad and Harper is the reason I can celebrate. She’s ‘Daddy’s Little Girl.’”

Happy Father’s Day!


Thomas Dekenipp smiling with family for fathers day post


Kirei Watson ’18, a recent Vaughn College graduate, is excited to begin her new career as a mechanical design engineer at Collins Aerospace, and says her experience at Vaughn gave her the confidence and knowledge to approach her future head on. Read more to learn how Watson landed her dream job, as well as her advice and tips on how you can, too.


In December 2017, Watson graduated from Vaughn with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering technology: aeronautical. She explains that although it’s important to keep your focus on your classes, it’s equally important to branch off and go beyond the classroom by joining clubs to enhance your passion and help further your career after graduation. Watson was involved with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), and said she even found time to participate in some outside events sponsored by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

“Joining the right engineering clubs at Vaughn played an instrumental role in landing my current job,” Watson said. “It was during my trip to the SHPE annual conference, sponsored by Vaughn, that I received my big break.” Watson, who was featured in Vaughn’s 2017 Gala video, shares further insight on how students can set themselves on the right path to success.


During the summer of 2018, Watson held an internship position where she worked as a manufacturing engineer at Harris Corporation, a defense contractor and information technology services provider. “I can’t stress enough how the internship at Harris Corporation helped me determine the type of company I wanted to work for in the future,” Watson stated. “I learned the importance of networking and the contrast between the academic aspect of engineering and the practical or professional approach.” Watson said she can’t emphasize enough how this internship opened her eyes to her future path, as it taught her the importance of being on a team focused on contributing something new and innovative to society.


Ask any college graduate and they’ll tell you: A job isn’t handed to you along with your diploma. The reality is it takes a lot of homework (sorry, but it’s true), extensive job searches, perseverance and guts to go out and secure a job in one’s chosen field. Take advantage of the career services department’s offerings including interview preparation, résumé writing and job search skills. Watson’s advice is to start planning now for your future. “It’s never too early to learn how to professionally prepare yourself for a corporate setting,” said Watson. “Not only are internships a great way to get experience in your field, but don’t underestimate the wisdom of the Vaughn faculty. My mentors were instrumental in helping me transition from an academic environment to a professional one. I will be forever grateful to them.”


Watson will begin her new position as mechanical design engineer with heat exchangers this month. She explains how this new position is different than her internship position as a design engineer because it incorporates additive manufacturing (3D printing). Additionally, she said this new department within the company opens doors for growth and innovation. “I’m excited about this position since it will enable me to contribute to and discover the many possibilities with additive manufacturing in regard to aerospace,” Watson said. “I’m thrilled to begin this next journey in my life, and it’s a good feeling to know Vaughn was the cornerstone to getting me here.”

Are you looking for a new career path? Schedule a visit and find out how a futureproof Vaughn education can get you on the path toward success.


Imagine pursuing a career that is futureproof—a career that sets your goals and dreams into motion with job stability, transferability and longevity. Vaughn College is one of the country’s premier colleges that specializes in engineering, technology, management and aviation, where graduates have a competitive edge to obtain jobs in the industry’s hottest markets.

This month, we caught up with Thomas Dekenipp ’18, a 32-year old Vaughn engineering graduate who not only landed his dream mechanical engineering job but is also embracing fatherhood and family more than ever before.

Life after Vaughn

We first spoke to Dekenipp two years ago when he was a junior at Vaughn and celebrating his first Father’s Day with his girlfriend, Jaime, and their daughter, Harper. Since then, Dekenipp has graduated from Vaughn with a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in mechanical engineering technology with a focus on aeronautical and computer-aided design. On top of that, he also landed his dream job at CPI Aerostructures, Inc. (CPI Aero), an aerospace and defense contractor headquartered in Edgewood, New York on Long Island.

As a proud and dedicated family man, Dekenipp was excited to share the news that he and Jaime welcomed their son, Milo, 14 months ago and just this past April bought their first home, which is located just minutes from his place of employment. “My life couldn’t be any more complete,” Dekenipp said humbly. “I’m blessed with how everything is falling into place.”


Thomas Dekenipp Family Photo

A futureproof career in mechanical engineering

Dekenipp is no stranger to discipline and hard work. Prior to applying to the engineering program at Vaughn in 2015, he worked six years as a helicopter mechanic in the United States Army 82nd Airborne Division, where he completed two tours in Afghanistan and worked an additional 18 months as a contractor. It was this combined passion for aeronautics and mechanics that led him to Vaughn and helped land his current position as a manufacturing engineer at CPI Aero.

“At CPI Aero, I’m involved with making parts for Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters using all the skills I learned at Vaughn,” Dekenipp explained. “The experience is truly amazing. I learn something new every day. It’s hard work but worth every minute.” Working as a manufacturing engineer has many responsibilities, which include maintaining the manufacturing and sustainability of the design and building processes, managing budgets and keeping up with client needs.

When asked about his futureproof career, Dekenipp answered, “Vaughn not only keeps their finger on the pulse of today’s technology trends but is committed to staying engaged with connections to ensure their students’ future success.”

Sage advice

As a seasoned military and family man, Dekenipp encourages others to follow their dreams and passions. After his military career, he said Vaughn gave him the opportunity to take his life to the next level.

“There’s not enough I can say about Vaughn, its faculty and the entire experience,” said Dekenipp. “Their excellent reputation, curriculum and guidance are a winning combination for any serious student.”

Dekenipp explained how Vaughn offers a laser-focused curriculum in specific fields of study. When asked if there was a specific skill that he gained from his education at Vaughn, Dekenipp replied: “The computer animated design courses fully prepared me for the job I have today.” He then went on to state: “I graduated with all the tools I needed for the job, along with the confidence and comfort factor to be successful. It was a seamless transition from the classroom to the job site.”

Before we wrapped up, Dekenipp spoke about his new home, family and the importance of traditions. “We bought our first dining room table for the new house,” he said proudly. “Growing up, my family always gathered around the table for meals,” he recalled. “We now have a table for family time. While my career and job outlook are futureproof and the catalyst for providing for my family, spending time with them is securing my futureproof formula for life.”

Learn more about earning a degree in engineering and technology.