Cultural differences have proven to play a role in pursuing a career. For 20-year-old Zarin Tasnim ’21, her dream of becoming a doctor was quickly replaced by pursuing a bachelor of science degree in airport management and taking air traffic control courses after she attended an Open House at Vaughn College in 2017.

Learning from a cartoon

Born in the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Tasnim moved with her family to Queens, New York when she was nine years old. She recalls life being difficult then as she did not know how to speak the English language. This obstacle kept her from having many friends. “I knew even at an early age that I needed to learn how to speak English,” said Tasnim. “Believe it or not, I credit the cartoon character ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ for helping me learn English,” she said laughingly. “I watched the show every day and before I knew it, I was able to speak the language well enough to make myself understood.”

Breaking cultural barriers

Growing up, Tasnim aspired to become a doctor but she said something did not feel right about it. She believed she had a different path to take. When she entered high school, she enrolled in the science technology engineering and math (STEM) program. She admits biology was not her favorite subject and soon realized the medical field might not be the right path for her. She switched her focus toward mechanical engineering and decided that would be her track when she moved onto college. Tasnim thought her future was set. She received a full-ride, four-year scholarship to Brooklyn College and was ready to dive into her engineering degree—until she heard about Vaughn. “In my country we are encouraged to become doctors or engineers,” Tasnim said. “I always thought becoming a doctor would be my path. That all changed when I discovered Vaughn.”

Changing paths

Even with the full scholarship in place at Brooklyn College, Tasnim wasted no time attending an Open House at Vaughn. “From the minute I saw the radar and tower control simulators, I knew Vaughn was the perfect college for me. It felt like home,” she said. At that moment, Tasnim was at a crossroads. Her parents were excited that she was considering a college closer to home, but the financial hurdle came into question. She had her tuition covered at another college, but her heart was set on Vaughn. The question Tasnim asked herself: “How can I afford to attend Vaughn?”

Finding Financial Opportunities

In the summer of 2017, Tasnim attended an express registration event and was accepted on the spot. She enrolled in the airport management program for the upcoming fall semester. Soon after, Tasnim realized she and her family could not afford the program. With a heavy heart, she began the process of withdrawing from her fall classes when Vaughn approached her about the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) which provided her the financial assistance to remain a student at Vaughn. One of the requirements of HEOP is to complete a summer semester. Vaughn enrolled her right away and Tasnim was on her way to pursuing her dream.
The HEOP program is an important part of life at Vaughn, and its mandate closely follows the College’s own: Providing economically and educationally disadvantaged and underrepresented students the possibility of a college education. The primary objective of both HEOP and Vaughn is to help provide a broad range of services to students who—because of academic and economic circumstances—would otherwise be unable to attend college, yet have the potential and desire to obtain a college degree.

Balancing work and studies

Although Tasnim is pursuing a degree in airport management, she is focusing on air traffic control to be her ultimate profession. With help from Vaughn’s career services department, she was hired by the Washington Center for a summer internship, where she works at LaGuardia Airport’s air traffic control tower. “It’s important that I position myself wisely to prepare for my future in aviation,” Tasnim said. “Working as an airport manager will give me the experience that I need right out of college to help lay the groundwork for my future. I hope to be hired as an air traffic controller after graduation to land my dream job.” In addition to her internship, she holds a second part-time job working as a receptionist at the security desk at Vaughn.

Grateful to Vaughn

Without the support and guidance from HEOP and the Vaughn family, Tasnim said she wouldn’t be where she is today. “It’s important for me to break the stereotype of working in a predominantly male profession,” she stated. “I still pinch myself every day that I’m where I am now. Even my parents can’t believe it.” She explains how the professors at Vaughn have been instrumental in helping her on her journey, but the driving force is her close relationship she has with her siblings. “My younger sister and brother look up to me as a role model,” Tasnim said lovingly. “I need to show them that anything is possible and not to settle in life. It’s acceptable to change your mind. Change is a good thing and I’m living proof of that.”

Job numbers are on the rise as the economy begins to open up after the economic shutdown due to COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, several industries actually saw a rise in demand as they became an essential part of assisting in critical operations.

This month, Vaughn College is spotlighting three industries that are thriving during these uncertain times. The exciting news is how the College’s futureproof degrees in engineering and technology, management and aviation are showing their value, even during a pandemic, as some of these essential industries made the list. Read on to learn more about them. We have even matched up the degree you will need to land the job. Which one suits you?

Cargo Aviation

The air cargo market has seen a recent surge in demand, as airfreight and cargo companies have become an essential part of transporting medical supplies and other life-saving equipment during the coronavirus pandemic. According to a recent market report—“Global Air Cargo Market 2020-2024”—released last month by Technavio (a global technology research and advisory company), the air cargo market is expected to grow by 16.75 million tons during the four-year time frame. It is reported that an increase in e-commerce sales has been a key factor in driving the growth of the cargo aviation market. Airlines that include The Emirates Group, United Parcel Service (UPS) Inc., Delta Air Lines, FedEx Corp., and others are among the market participants.

Boeing is also finding its way back to the runways as the revival of the air cargo market is fueling new deals for its cargo planes. With three different types of cargo jets and converted passenger-to-cargo planes in its fleet, the company is receiving orders from delivery service giants like UPS and FedEx.

Closer to home, Vaughn’s long-term relationship with Atlas Air has resulted in several alumni landing internships and ultimately full-time positions with this renowned aviation cargo company. Karen Batson ’04, Vaughn alumna and adjunct faculty member, has been instrumental in hiring more than 30 of the College’s graduates to work at Atlas Air because she knows how Vaughn prepares graduates for the aviation field and successful careers. Last year, Vaughn honored William J. Flynn, chair of the board and chief executive officer of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc. at their annual gala that celebrates professionals in the industry. In his speech, Flynn stated: “Ten percent of our workforce in our New York headquarters are Vaughn College graduates. Many more graduates work elsewhere across our company. Several of our employees are now teaching at Vaughn. And countless more have mentored Vaughn students through our ongoing internship program. The work that Vaughn is doing is so critical to propelling this industry forward. Vaughn is developing some of the best and brightest minds in the workforce today.”

Interested in working in cargo aviation? Vaughn offers the following degree that could land you a job in the field. Which will you choose?

Aircraft Operations

Aviation Maintenance Certificate Program

Airline Management

Airport Management

Engineering and Technology

The urgent demand for medical technology during the pandemic has placed engineers front and center, as their skills and knowledge continue to play a significant role in patient care. From building life-saving ventilators to managing and tracking medical technology in hospitals, engineers are proving to be more essential now than ever before. Biomedical engineers, along with engineers who specialize in the mechatronic or robotics field, are also making their marks.

The use of robotic technology is on the rise, aiding the medical profession in ways that we once thought of as futuristic possibilities. Robots are stepping up in a big way as COVID-19 has shifted us from being a “hands-on” society to a “touchless” one. In fact, it’s believed the longest lasting effect of the coronavirus will be the use of automation. So, what does this all mean? To reduce human exposure in high-touch areas, robots are being used to disinfect and deliver goods and services, among other tasks. Additionally, robotics technologies are being valued for their profitability and are now viewed as critical components in a company’s infrastructure, similar to the way organizations may see computers and other key infrastructure.

Do you have a passion for robotics and engineering? Vaughn offers New York’s first bachelor of science degree program in mechatronic engineering, a unique curriculum that combines mechanical, electrical and computer engineering. This degree program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of ABET (

In addition to robotics, Vaughn offers several engineering and technology degrees that can set you on a path to a futureproof career. Are you ready to join one of the world’s fastest growing fields? See which one is right for you?

Electrical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering

Engineering and Technology

Utilities and Power Generation

Most of us do not think about how we get our electricity. We just flip a switch and expect it to be there. With the majority of us under quarantine and working from home due to the coronavirus, the demand for electricity is higher than ever. Utility workers have always had an essential role in our daily lives. Add a pandemic to the mix, and their roles are even greater.

Vaughn College’s Aviation Training Institute can prepare you for a high-paying career as a certified airframe and powerplant technician. Did you know there are many reasons to launch a career in aviation maintenance? Aviation maintenance technicians have well-rounded knowledge and skills to work in a variety of fields. And those who are trained with an airframe and powerplant certification can work on any turbine engine. This valuable skill opens the doors to work on aircraft, trains and automobiles, and in power generation for electric, solar and wind companies.

Are you interested in working in the utility industry? Vaughn offers programs that can help you secure a job in the field.

Aviation Training Institute

Aviation Maintenance Technician (Airframe and Powerplant)

In these times of uncertainty, one thing is certain. Now is the time to set yourself on a path to a futureproof career. See how a degree from Vaughn College can get your there. Apply today.