Vaughn College celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month with the story of a first-generation Pakistani college student, Malik Khuram ’25, who came to New York at the age of 10 and discovered his passion for aviation and engineering at a young age. Now as a junior mechanical engineering student at Vaughn, Khuram  is pursuing his dream in the industry—making his mark at Vaughn while getting hands-on work experience at Con Edison East River Generating Station located on 14th Street in Manhattan.

His Passion for Engineering Led Him to Vaughn

“I grew up in Pakistan and moved to New York with my family when I was 10 years old,” Khuram said. “I attended the Aviation Career and Technical Education High School—also known as Aviation High School—in Sunnyside, Queens. It was there that my future career path took flight.” As an institution that prepares students for careers in the aerospace industry, Aviation High School also partners with Vaughn to recruit high-achieving students who wish to pursue careers in the engineering and aviation industries. Little did Khuram know that he would be one of those fortunate students that Vaughn selects each year to receive the one full scholarship that is awarded each year. “I worked very hard throughout high school to maintain a competitive grade point average,” he explained. “Vaughn was always on my radar as a college I wanted to attend. I was shocked when the vice president of the school and my guidance counselor told me that I had been selected to receive that year’s scholarship to Vaughn!”

Khuram solidified his decision to attend Vaughn during an Open House event. “The low student-to-professor ratio and impressive curriculum really excited me. But most of all, I was grateful for the full-ride scholarship to attend such an amazing college.”

Support from CSTEP

In addition to his full scholarship, Khuram is also part of the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), which provides him with additional funds for books, software and travel to internships. “I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the financial support I receive from Vaughn,” Khuram said humbly. “They have eliminated that burden which is giving me the opportunity to focus on earning my degree and planning my future.”

Engagement Beyond Academics

NASA Rover Challenge 2022Khuram emphasized the well-rounded student experience at Vaughn which has enabled him to apply his mechanical engineering skills to real-life scenarios, actively participating in the robotics club serving as the current president of the NASA Rover Club. “Last year was an exciting time for our team. We attended the Human Exploration Rover Challenge in Huntsville, Alabama where we competed against students from around the world. It was a great all-around experience.”

Khuram said he also enjoys being a member of Vaughn’s student chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). “Being part of a larger organization made up of individuals who share your heritage and interest in engineering is empowering,” he stated. “It’s great to know that I belong to a community that recognizes and supports my potential and impact in the industry.”

Internship and Co-Op at Con Edison

Ambition, hard work and persistence make up the foundation on which Khuram is achieving his life goals. He explained how Chaundra Daniels, director of career services at Vaughn, was instrumental in helping him land his internship at Con Edison. “She sent me an email about the internship, and then helped me apply and prepare for my interview. I was accepted as a summer intern and I knew the opportunity would be the gateway to something bigger for me.”

At the end of the summer internship, Con Edison offered Khuram a co-op position with the company. “It’s a little challenging—balancing college and work—but it’s all worth it,” he said. “I’m taking 18 credits this semester and working 18-20 hours each week. The best part is how Con Edison gives me the flexibility I need to be successful both in my studies and at my job.”

Industry Experience

Khuram said he loves working at Con Edison. “I work at the steam plant in Manhattan that controls the hot water and electricity for various parts of the city. It’s a massive plant that occupies three city blocks,” he explained. He said he assists with scheduling the work in the office and also shadows the engineers when they work out in the field. “I have the opportunity to interact with so many people in different areas. In my co-op position, I’m able to ask questions, experience different roles and figure out what I like best. I learn something new every day and love the relationship I’ve built with the management team.”

When asked why he believes engineering is one of today’s most in-demand fields, Khuram replied: “Technology is everywhere and changing constantly. We need engineers for every sector. They look for ways to make things work better, which in turn, will make our lives better.”

Advice to Students

For anyone interested in becoming an engineer, Khuram said it’s important to remember that you have options: “Not every engineer works in the field. Some work at a desk. The key elements come down to three things: problem solving, persistence and patience.”

At 23 years old, Khuram looks to the future with hope and positivity. “I would love to be offered a permanent position with Con Edison after graduation. I love the work I do there. My plan is to apply for an associate engineer position where I could make up to $75K to start. The rest is up to fate.”

If you share Khuram’s passion for engineering, explore the possibilities with a futureproof degree in engineering, technology, management, or aviation. Apply to Vaughn College today!


Looking for the perfect holiday gift ideas for the engineers and tech lovers in your life? We’ve done the shopping for you. Vaughn College is excited to share gift ideas this holiday season. Get ready to “sleigh” the holidays with these awesome gift ideas!

Flashlight gloves

Anyone who works with their hands will love having light at their fingertips—when and where they need it. These cleverly engineered flashlight gloves have LED lights on the index finger and thumb, which makes working in dark spaces an illuminating experience. Plus, they’re made to be ambidextrous, so there’s no fumbling when time is of the essence. Talk about shedding light on the subject!

Robotic arm

You don’t have to be an mechanical engineer to love this gift. In fact, any robotics or tech enthusiast will be thrilled to build this cool robotic arm. The kit includes everything needed to get started. Check it out:

robotic armThe control system of the mechanical arm shown here is equipped with:

  • Bluetooth
  • 16M memory
  • Operates via a DC port

Once built, here’s what it can do:

  • Grab and hold up to 55 pounds
  • Save 1,020 different actions
  • Can be programmed using PC software, mobile applications and offline

Smart weather station

smart weather stationBe a meteorologist in your own backyard! This innovative smart weather station allows you to monitor the weather conditions at your home and backyard at a glance using a bright, LCD color display. You can keep up with the current temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speeds and so much more via the wireless all-in-one integrated sensor. This makes a great gift for anyone who loves meteorology—or just likes talking about the weather.

Magnetic levitating globe

magnetic globeHow does it do that? This magnetic levitating globe is one of the coolest gifts to give this holiday season. Powered by electricity, the globe levitates by use of powerful magnets on the top and bottom of the unit. It’s the perfect gift for the students, engineers, scientists and curiosity-seekers in your life.

Aviator smartwatch

aviator smartwatchThe latest aviator smartwatches have amazing features that the pilot in your life will be sure to appreciate. These watches have touchscreen displays with GPS/moving map, weather/radar reports, call/text and animated workouts. It also can be paired to an app to transfer flight plans. With so many different variations of this type of watch, there’s definitely one for your pilot!


From all of us at Vaughn College, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season!

Until a few years ago, most of us took it for granted that our everyday goods would be on the shelves when we needed them. The COVID-19 pandemic changed that. Today, companies increasingly recognize the critical role that supply chains play in our everyday lives. This has created a high demand for supply chain professionals across all industries.

In response to a growing need to provide employment-ready students for the workplace, Vaughn College has developed a certificate program in Supply Chain Management (SCM) that has been approved by the New York State Department of Education (NYSED).

Peter Canellis, PhD, PE, associate professor in the management department at Vaughn, shared the wide range of benefits the program offers to individuals who are seeking either careers or advancement in the field.

What is “Supply Chain Management”?

From a global perspective, supply chain management relates to the flow of goods and services—from beginning with raw materials to delivering a final product. Supply chain management careers encompass diverse opportunities and various paths which allow individuals to seek out their own niche, based on their interests and skills.

Canellis explained that the main driver for supply chain talent is the demand for goods and services that has exploded on a global basis due to an increasing number of the world’s population that is entering the middle class. Some of the opportunities one can pursue include sourcing and procurement, logistics, inventory management, demand forecasting and purchasing. Hiring companies may include manufacturers, airlines and ocean-going freight carriers, trucking companies, railroads, freight forwarders, terminal operators and government agencies.

What are the benefits of pursuing a certificate degree in SCM?

Pursuing a certificate in SCM can be highly rewarding—and profitable. This is an intriguing field where interested individuals will learn how the worldwide economy works—and then some.

Here are the top reasons for pursuing a career in supply chain management:

  • High demand—Supply chain management is required by every company that either makes products for business or consumer use, provides intermediate inputs to those products, or supports their distribution. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment in this field to grow 18 percent over the next decade, which is much faster than average for all other occupations. This high demand is creating a pathway of opportunity to help companies reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction and enhance competitiveness.
    • Cargo growth is expected to more than double over the next 20 years and a greater proportion of the world’s total output will shift to cargo-related activities.
  • Job security—Even during economic downturns, companies—both foreign and domestic—still need to manage their supply chains in this global economy.
  • Career advancement—Continuous learning opportunities that will enhance skills and increase career potential.
  • Financial rewards—Individuals working in SCM command competitive salaries. Those who have experience and specialized skills can earn higher salaries and bonuses.

Vaughn’s Supply Chain Management certificate details and outlook:

  • A comprehensive, hands-on curriculum in supply chain operations.
  • A four-course series that runs for five weeks and is structured for possible completion within six months (three credits per course, totaling 12 credits).
  • Every course can be applied toward attainment of a bachelor’s degree.
  • ‘Badging’ on students’ transcripts is a unique benefit that provides eligible students with a ‘badge’ on their transcript as early recognition and documentation of their achievements when seeking employment.
  • A guaranteed informational employment interview with one of Vaughn partners is available after successful completion of the first two courses—with a grade of “C” or better.
  • Salaries range from $65,000 entry-level to $98,000 and higher for mid-level jobs in the US according to The Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) 2023 annual survey.

Is a supply chain management career in your future? See how Vaughn’s Supply Chain Management Certificate Program can prepare you for this highly sought-after, in-demand field. Apply today!

Don’t miss the Vaughn College Fall Open House. Our November 11 event date is now full, but you can register for a second identical event on December 9. Learn how one of our valuable degree programs in engineering, technology, management and aviation can lead you to an exciting, in-demand career. After all, it’s your future and we can help make it work—for you!

What you’ll learn at this year’s Open House

Attending our Open House is the first step to starting your journey to lifelong success in the industries we serve. You’ll learn everything you need to know about Vaughn—from student life, housing, degree programs and how to apply for free.

Join us on:

  • Saturday, December 9
  • Check in: 8:15 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.
  • Welcome: 9 a.m.

(Directly followed by tours, student life, financial aid and academic and maintenance program sessions)


Why jobs in aviation and engineering are in such high demand

With travel demand being back to nearly pre-pandemic levels, there’s been a great need for qualified aviation and engineering professionals to fill open roles (especially after many pilots retired during the pandemic). In fact, the skills taught at Vaughn College have never been in greater demand. Companies are recruiting engineers, pilots, air traffic controllers, maintenance technicians, operations managers and others in unprecedented numbers. As a result, salaries in these fields are soaring, benefits are generous and schedules are flexible. You can be a part of the next generation of aviation professionals to keep the industry moving in the right direction.

Why Vaughn is the place for your engineering, aviation and management training

Vaughn College graduates leave with more than just degrees. They leave with lifelong friendships, industry connections and most importantly, exciting, futureproof careers. When it comes down to it, the numbers are stacked in your favor:

  • 98 percent of Vaughn graduates—78 percent in their field—are employed or continue theirUS News & World Report Vaughn College best regional college in the north 2024 education within one year*
  • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid
  • Ranked number one in upward mobility nationwide, as reported in the New York Times**
  • Ranked in top 4% of colleges with highest ROI for students from under-resourced communities***
  • Voted among Best Colleges for Social Mobility in 2024 by U.S. News and World Report
  • Voted among Best Colleges for Regional Colleges in 2024 by U.S. News and World Report
  • Experienced faculty who spent their careers working in the field
  • State-of-the-art training facilities, including a $1M flight simulator complex, air traffic control and computer engineering labs
  • Career services department dedicated to student success – with career fairs, employer engagement days, opportunities to attend industry events and paid internships

College affordability

Don’t let the cost of a college education stop you from pursuing your dreams. At Vaughn, we provide an affordable education that’s focused on the professional skills you’ll need to excel in an ever-changing career landscape.

Additionally, more than 90 percent of our students receive some sort of financial aid, with the average aid package totaling over $15,000 per year. We’ll help you assemble a customized financial plan, which may include scholarships, grants, loans and campus employment options.

Are you ready to see your future come into focus? Join us on November 11 – Register today!

We hope to see you there!

*Outcomes include data within one year of graduation for graduates who reported via survey. There were a total of 364 graduates in 2022. 222 reported an outcome for an 61% response rate. The 2022 graduating class includes September 2021, December 2021 and May 2022 graduates.
**The Upshot, January 18, 2017, “Some Colleges Have More Students From the Top 1 Percent Than the Bottom 60.”
***Data from a study completed by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce,
“The Colleges Where Low-Income Students Get the Highest ROI”

As technology advances at a record pace, the demand for computer science professionals is skyrocketing. If you’re looking for a high-paying, in-demand career, earning a degree in computer science may just be the best investment you can make for your future. Do you know what’s even better? The path to this futureproof career is closer than you think.

Vaughn College has recently added a bachelor of science degree in computer science. This latest addition to the College’s impressive array of engineering degree programs is designed to ensure that graduates will possess the necessary knowledge and skills to be valuable assets in the computer science industry.

Dr. Miguel Bustamante assistant professor of engineering and technology at Vaughn, weighed in on the value of earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science. “The unprecedented demand for graduates in the fields of computer science and information technology makes Vaughn’s computer science degree one of the most valuable investments for a student’s future,” said Bustamante.

What does Vaughn’s computer science degree offer?

The computer science degree at Vaughn focuses on hands-on experience and internships to ensure students not only understand the theory of the field but can also apply it to real-world situations that happen in the field every day. This comprehensive curriculum encompasses all aspects of computer science so students graduate feeling confident and ready to start their careers.

Students will:

  • Master the fundamentals of programming
  • Gain expertise in computer algorithms
  • Develop networking and system security skills
  • Tackle complex challenges and design systems to meet specific criteria, based on mastering a solid foundation in mathematics and design systems
  • Explore advanced topics such as data science and artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Learn specifics about program courses and learning objectives here.

What industries are hiring computer science professionals?

Computer science professionals are needed in almost every facet of industry—from healthcare, automotive and real estate—to develop software and hardware, design computer systems and manage databases that are secure in the face of increasingly advanced hackers.

Here are some of the careers you can pursue with a computer science degree:

  • Software developer
  • Computer systems engineer
  • Computer hardware engineer
  • Data warehousing specialist
  • Database administrator
  • Systems analyst
  • Game developer
  • Web developer

Robust demand for computer science professionals over the next decade—and beyond

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers that are related to computer and information technology are projected to grow at a faster rate than all other occupations over the next decade. In fact, data revealed that about 377,500 job openings are projected each year. In 2021, for example, there were fewer than 160,000 computer science graduates to fill the almost 568,000 job openings. The 2022 median annual wage for computer network architects with a bachelor’s degree was $126,900. The 2022 median annual wage for database administrators with a bachelor’s degree was $112,120.

With the growth, demand and range of opportunities, a bachelor’s degree in computer science is well worth the time and investment.

What it takes to earn a computer science degree and why it’s worth it

A computer science degree involves a challenging curriculum that demands technical knowledge and strong mathematical skills, however, you don’t have to be a math genius to pursue a degree in the field. Vaughn provides assistance through the academic success center to help with tutoring or other degree-related needs.  There’s also a strong emphasis on theory and concepts, so abstract thinkers also do well. With a low student/faculty ratio of 14:1 which is often lower in some engineering courses, Vaughn professors are available to help you master any challenging concepts.

Investing in your future is money well spent. According to, bachelor’s degrees in computer and information sciences have a lifetime return on investment (ROI) of 71 percent. Now that’s spending your money wisely! Plus, the computer engineering industry is only projected to grow over time, so it truly is a futureproof career path.

Does computer science sound like the right fit for you? If so, schedule a meeting with one of our admissions counselors today to learn more.

Vaughn College is excited to announce its 2023 Computer Engineering Summer Boot Camp,  happening in July and August. Students will be introduced to some of the hottest topics in the industry, including cybersecurity, blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, computer scripting, operating systems, ethical hacking and so much more! And best of all—it’s completely free!

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in cybersecurity, our summer boot camp can be your first big step to becoming a highly sought-after candidate in one of the fastest growing career sectors in the country.

Why the field is red hot

Today, nearly all financial transactions are conducted online, which have given rise to cyberattacks. If you’ve ever been hacked, you know firsthand experience how disruptive it is. Because of the serious nature of cyberattacks, the U.S. government is now requiring companies to protect data. There are approximately 1.8 million cybersecurity-related positions worldwide that will go unfilled this year. The urgency to fill these positions is making computer engineering and information technology among the hottest career sectors today.

Vaughn’s Computer Engineering Summer Boot Camp Details

Where and when it’s happening

The computer engineering boot camp will be held on Vaughn’s main campus. Here is what you need to know:

Program runs from July 17 – August 24.

Each week, classes will be held Monday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
(One hour lunch break between 12-1 p.m.)

Who is eligible to participate?

This free, in-person, program is open to:

  • High school students, particularly seniors
  • Community college students
  • College students with an interest in computer engineering, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence
What will be taught?

Students will receive an introduction and hands-on training in some of today’s most influential topics in the industry, including:

  • Blockchain technology
  • Cybersecurity
  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Principles of ethical hacking
  • Computer scripting
  • Operating systems
  • Plus, so much more!

Through project implementations in hardware and software, students will engage in hands-on learning practices to help them understand the top-down processes that focus on application results. Here are some other exciting features:

  • Each class focuses on the hottest topics in the industry.
  • Each week, a new topic will be explored.
  • Students will be fully engaged with theory and hands-on training.

Why Vaughn?

Vaughn has the faculty, resources and industry experts to help you engineer a bright future in cybersecurity and information technology. Need more proof? Check out our proven results:

  • Vaughn was ranked #1 in upward mobility nationwide.*
  • Vaughn was ranked a 2022 Best Regional College by U.S. News & World Report.
  • 88 percent of Vaughn graduates―75 percent in their chosen field―are employed or continue their education within one year.**
  • Vaughn was ranked in the top four percent of colleges with the highest ROI for low income students.***
  • Vaughn’s well-connected, experienced faculty and staff will keep you on a path of success throughout your college career.
  • Vaughn’s curriculum is based on the latest trends in the industry and is updated as trends shift with new technological advancements.
  • We guarantee you’ll graduate with the skills you need for a successful career.

Ready to register for boot camp?

Make the most of your future this summer. It’s easy to register. Complete a simple form and we will confirm your acceptance.

Sign Up Here

Booting up for success

Are you interested in pursuing cybersecurity as a career? Check out Vaughn’s new Computer Engineering Bachelor of Science degree program, now enrolling for fall 2023!

Learn More


*The Upshot, January 18, 2017, “Some Colleges Have More Students From the Top 1 Percent Than the Bottom 60.”

**Outcomes include data within one year of graduation for graduates who reported via survey. There were a total of 237 graduates in 2020. 178 reported an outcome for an 75% response rate. The 2020 graduate class includes September 2019, December 2019 and May 2020 graduates.

***Data from a study completed by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, “The Colleges Where Low-Income Students Get the Highest ROI

For eligible full-time students. See full details here.

The excitement is building as Vaughn College gears up to host a series of VEX Robotics Tournaments for middle, high school and college students in the hangar on the College’s campus.

This three-day event is sure to be a true nail biter as talented enthusiasts show off their robots in thrilling competitions of engineering skills and ingenuity. The schedule will be as follows:

  • February 10: VCAT VEX U Tournament—Vaughn College Robotics Team (VCAT) will compete against national and international universities.
  • February 11: VCAT VRC Tournament Qualifier—High school students will compete to qualify for the state championships.
  • February 12: VEX IQ Competition—Middle school students will compete in an open-ended robotics challenge. This exciting opportunity not only enhances hands-on STEM skills but fosters a student’s development of teamwork, critical thinking, project management and communication skills.

Vaughn has degree programs to meet robotics demand

Competitions such as VEX Robotics World Championship offer students an amazing opportunity to put their robotics and automation skills to the test, while also building vital leadership, collaboration and problem solving skills that students take with them into their future careers.

Vaughn College has long been an institution that meets industry demands by offering futureproof degree programs in fields that impact our daily lives. Robotics engineering and automation are becoming part of today’s most sought-after professions. Through exciting clubs like VCAT and VEX U Robotic World Championship competitions, Vaughn students from diverse majors like mechanical engineering, mechatronic engineering and management are able to put their diverse talents into motion. Why is this important?

According to surveys conducted by ABB, a Swiss-based automation technology company, robotics and automation training are falling behind the increased global demand as it relates to supply chain and education. In fact, although the survey revealed that only one-in-four institutions are teaching these competencies throughout the globe, 80 percent of education professionals said skills in these fields will be crucial for employment in the future. Further results showed that due to supply chain issues, an average of 70 percent of US and European businesses plan to invest in robotics and automation over the next three years. So, what does this mean for your future? If you have ever had an interest in robotics, it might be time to start considering it as a solid career.

Your pathway to success

Vaughn’s mechatronic engineering curriculum was developed to combine mechanical, electrical and computer engineering to prepare students for this fast-paced and ever-changing industry. This leading-edge program gives students the education and tools that are needed to have successful engineering careers in aerospace, automation, automotive, computer, communications and other high-tech industries. And were you aware that this leading-edge degree in engineering is one of only four in the country to receive accreditation by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of ABET?

Meet the future you: Success stories

Check out some of our student success stories to learn how Vaughn’s mechatronic engineering program has allowed our students to become successful in a variety of industries.

Jefferson Maldonado ‘16: Read how this Vaughn graduate went back to college to earn a degree in mechatronic engineering after his four-year military career in the U.S. Navy.
Mechatronic Engineering Graduate Lands Dream Job in Robotics

Atif Saeed ‘20: Learn how this Vaughn graduate’s love for aviation and passion for engineering landed him his dream job at Lockheed Martin.
Vaughn Senior Fast Tracks His Future in Mechatronic Engineering”

Tatiana Jaimes ‘22: Find out how this Vaughn graduate—with the support from the College—used mechatronic engineering to design a literacy tool for visually impaired children, where she ultimately landed a job at NASA after graduation.
“Tatiana Jaimes ’22 Uses Mechatronic Engineering to Design BrailleBud, a Literacy Tool for Visually Impaired Children”

Misael Marquez ‘22: Read this exciting article featuring Misael Marquez, president of VCAT, who discusses winning the Excellence Award at the 2022 VEX Worlds Championship—the highest honor presented at VEX Competitions. Learn how he credits joining the robotics team and pursuing a degree in mechatronic engineering as being key to his success.

Vaughn College Robotics Team: For a collective story of triumph, read about a first placement win: “Vaughn Robotics Team Named Number One in the World

Are you interested in the exciting field of robotics engineering? Now is the time to earn your degree to meet the demand in this surging field. Apply today.

And don’t forget to keep up with VCAT team – follow their live stream competitions on Twitch!

Sometimes the path you’re on may be leading you in the wrong direction. This was the realization for Vaughn graduate Antonio Florio ’19 when, at the age of 25, he switched gears from a career in economics and decided to pursue his passion for aviation and become an air traffic controller. Now, at 29, he’s training for his future at New York Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZNY) on Long Island. Read on to learn how a conversation with his uncle sparked his ambition to go back to college and follow his lifelong dream of being an eye in the sky.

Keeping an eye on the sky

Growing up in Rockland County, New York, Florio always had his eyes on the sky. He remembers how going to the airport was one of his favorite things to do as a child. “From as far back as I can remember, I would always have my head out of the car window, looking up at the planes as we drove to the airport—or anywhere for that matter,” Florio said laughingly. “Airplanes always fascinated me.”

Finding his way

After graduating from high school, Florio attended the State University of New York at Oneonta, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in economics in 2015. For the next three years, he worked in this field but eventually realized the economics industry was not for him. “I was bored at my job,” he said. “I wasn’t happy going to work every day. I knew I had to make a change.” Then, one day he had a conversation with his uncle, who happened to be a pilot. “My uncle saw how unhappy I was at my job and suggested I pursue a career in aviation like him,” Florio explained. “I knew I didn’t want to be a pilot, but my uncle suggested becoming an air traffic controller. The rest is history.” Florio left his job and took some time off to travel and contemplate his next move. Knowing he had his sights set on becoming an air traffic controller, the next decision was where to earn his degree.

Choosing Vaughn

Being a native New Yorker, Florio was familiar with Vaughn College and knew that was where he was destined to turn his passion into a career. As one of only 30 colleges in the country to offer the Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI), Florio was certain that Vaughn would be the best place to prepare him for a career as an air traffic controller.

“I attended a campus tour and was instantly excited about attending the College,” Florio explained.  “Once I saw the control tower on campus, I was hooked!” In September 2018, he enrolled in Vaughn’s Airport Management degree program. Since Florio already had one bachelor’s degree under his belt, he was able to complete the program in one year and he graduated with his second bachelor’s degree in May 2019. “The instructors at Vaughn were instrumental in my aspirations to become an air traffic controller,” Florio said. “Their firsthand industry knowledge and sincere interest in my success was paramount during my time there.”

Applying for training

After graduating from Vaughn, Florio went through the rigorous process of applying for the air traffic controller program. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), applicants must meet minimum requirements before being selected to attend the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City. Florio said the process—which he describes as “intense”—took about four months to complete. In April 2020, he received notice that he’d met all the requirements and passed all the mandatory testing and evaluations. “I believe having the AT-CTI certification gave me a strong foundation of knowledge to be successful at the FAA academy,” he said. “The pool of applicants was considerable.” Florio was now one step closer to his dream. And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This was a major setback for Florio, but he didn’t let it hold him back. He took a job at Westchester County Airport, where he worked in the operations department to fill the time while waiting to begin his training. “Working at the airport was a great learning experience,” he said. “I gained valuable knowledge outside of the classroom that was instrumental in my career.”

Back on track

In November 2021, Florio began his training at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City, where he remained for four months. “Training at the academy was an amazing experience,” he said. “The competition was steep, but it makes you want to work harder.” Of the eight candidates in his class, Florio was one of the four who passed the FAA training. With this milestone behind him, he was given a list of available positions across the country. “I was chosen to work in En Route Operations, which are facilities that own and operate airspace around 18,000 -to-60,000 feet,” he explained. Florio accepted the position at the New York Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZNY) on Long Island located in Ronkonkoma, where he has been training for the past three months. “New York is home for me,” he said. “My fiancé and our families live here as well. I feel like I hit the lottery with this job.”

Florio explained how there is a backlog of trainees at the facility due to the COVID-19 lockdown. “I’m hoping to complete my training and become a certified professional controller within the next few years.” In the meantime, he is training on material that is specific to New York: The study of maps of the airspace in upstate New York and Pennsylvania, the airports in that airspace and military rules, among other topics.

When asked about his decision to switch careers, Florio replied: “Don’t be afraid to make a move in a different direction. You never know how it will turn out until you try, so never settle to play it safe. You have to be happy going to a job every day. It’s never too late to make that happen.”

In-demand career

The ongoing shortage of aviation employees—which include pilots, crew members and air traffic controllers—continues to cripple the industry. If you’re looking for a high-paying career with great benefits and a flexible schedule, becoming an air traffic controller may be the perfect job for you. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual median salary for air traffic controllers in 2021 was $129,750. Were you also aware that the mandatory retirement age for air traffic controllers is 56 at which point they receive a pension (50% of average pay) after working for 20 years? For this reason, aviation enthusiasts who are interested in this field are encouraged to begin the process early.

Check out our blog, “Soaring Careers: Top Five Jobs and Salaries for Aviation Degrees,” to learn more about which futureproof career may be best for you.

Do you have your sights on becoming an air traffic controller? Vaughn can get you there—and in less time than you think. Apply today!


For more than 70 years, Mental Health Awareness Month has been recognized during the month of May. The purpose is to raise awareness for how mental health is essential to overall health. With nearly one-in-five Americans living with a mental health condition according to the National Institute of Mental Health, the reality is that someone you know—or even yourself—could be struggling. The good news is one of the best ways to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month is to talk about it.

Vaughn College is starting the conversation by exploring some of the mental health conditions students are facing today, as well as the ways to overcome them. But first, let’s start with the basics.

What is mental health?

It’s not always about what you can see, but what you can’t see. Unlike physical health—which is mostly visible on the outside—mental health is an inner process that involves how we think, feel and process situations. How you handle a stressful situation or relate to others, for example, can determine the state of your mental health. If you’ve been struggling but are hesitating about getting help for fear of being judged, now is the time to release that fear and seek counseling. Not sure if what you’re feeling is part of mental health? Let’s discuss.

Mental health conditions

Most of us have experienced one or more challenging times in our lives and those times can be overwhelming, leaving our mental health to suffer. Millions of Americans experience mental health conditions. Some conditions are more prevalent among college students due to the stress of studying, juggling work and extracurriculars, maintaining relationships, etc. Some of these conditions may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Sleeping issues and disorders
  • Self-injury

If you’ve been experiencing any of these conditions, it’s important to realize that you’re not alone. Internalizing and ignoring any of these conditions can lead you to feeling isolated, alone and with nowhere to turn. It is important to achieve mental wellness by finding a healthy balance between your studies, job, family and extracurriculars, while seeking the appropriate support. To learn about the wellness programs and activities offered at Vaughn, read our blog: “Stress Awareness Month: How Vaughn Helps You Find Your Balance.”

Some facts about anxiety disorder

  • Anxiety is the most common form of mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America
  • In many cases, anxiety disorders are treatable
  • Only about 36 percent of affected people choose to get help
  • Exercise is a proven way to help lessen the effects of anxiety disorders

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health

There’s no denying the pandemic has impacted our mental well-being. And for college students, this impact has complicated life even further. Remote learning has caused students to be much less social, more sedentary and more complacent. Even with the latest easing of COVID-19 restrictions, students are still feeling the emotional impacts of the pandemic. Some of these include:

  • Relationships—Social distancing may have put a strain on relationships with friends and partners.
  • Remote learning—Learning via Zoom can cause students to feel isolated, alone, and complacent.
  • Loss of loved ones—Complications from COVID-19 may have taken the lives of loved ones which takes a long-term toll on mental health.

Healthy ways to improve your mental health

First, let’s start by saying that self-care isn’t selfish. Good mental health begins with being honest with yourself, your feelings and emotions. Here are some healthy ways to improve or maintain good mental health:

  • Self-check-ins—Regular self-check-ins are important steps for reflecting on how you’re feeling and addressing anything that might be upsetting you. The goal here is to not ignore any issues but to work through them or seek help if needed.
  • Schedule some “me” time—Life can get busy and overwhelming with studying, work and other responsibilities. Make time to do things that bring you peace and joy, even if it means setting boundaries with others. Remember it’s ok to say “no” sometimes. Whether it’s meeting up with friends, going on a nature walk or even packing a picnic lunch in the park, taking a break from the books is a great way to nurture your mental health.
  • Check-in on loved ones—Friends and family may be struggling with their own mental health. A simple phone call or visit can make all the difference to helping them feel loved and encouraged. (And it may help you, too!)
  • Form a study group or get a study buddy—Studying with friends is always better than studying alone. Even if you prefer to study alone, checking your knowledge with your peers can never hurt.
  • Participate in on-campus happenings, events and clubs—Doing things outside of your normal comfort zone and meeting other students or alumni with similar interests will invigorate your soul and help you to feel a part of something larger. Check out Vaughn’s events calendar for students – there’s always something fun going on!

If you need someone to talk to or want more information on staying mentally healthy, we encourage you to make an appointment at Vaughn’s office of counseling and wellness. Vaughn is committed to helping you overcome any challenges and guide you towards graduating and obtaining your dream career.  Need help academically? Stop by Vaughn’s Academic Success Center – it’s always open to provide you with the one-on-one support you need to succeed in your classes.

Other helpful mental health resources:

National Alliance on Mental Illness

National Institute of Mental Health

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Anxiety & Depression Association of America

National Suicide Prevention Hotline—(800-273-TALK) or dial 988 (available in all states on July 16, 2022)

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a time when our country celebrates this select group of individuals for their contributions to the history, culture and achievements in the United States.

This month, Vaugh College invites you to join this celebration as we recognize four AAPI trailblazers for their extraordinary accomplishments in the fields of engineering and technology, management and aviation.

Josephine Santiago-Bond: NASA Systems Engineer

Josephine Santiago-Bond
Photo Credit: Women of NASA Portraits. Josephine Santiago-Bond.

Growing up in the Philippines, Josephine Santiago-Bond had a passion for engineering but never dreamed she would have a career at NASA, let alone in the position of systems engineer. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communications engineering from the University of the Philippines, she ventured to the United States, where she found her first engineering job designing sports products. It wasn’t until she went on to earn her master’s degree in electrical engineering at South Dakota State University, however, that her life took an unexpected turn. She landed an internship at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, and, as they say, “the rest is history.” In 2004, she began her career at NASA by contributing to exciting projects that included space shuttle ground system operations, the Constellation subsystems design and even several lunar missions. During her time at NASA, her career evolved from electronics engineer to that of systems engineer. Today, she leads a team of engineers as the chief of the advanced engineering development branch. As a woman of Pacific Islander descent, she recognizes herself as a minority in the field but says it’s a blessing that she can work for NASA, an organization that values inclusion.

Jerry Yang: Co-Founder and CEO of Yahoo!

Jerry Yang
Photo credit: Wikipedia

As one of America’s wealthiest men, Jerry Yang’s story began as a 10-year-old boy from Taiwan who moved to the United States knowing only one English word—“shoe.” After his father died, Yang moved to San Jose, California with his mother and brother. Determined—even at a young age—Yang learned the English language in only three years and graduated high school at the top of his class. He attended Stanford University—working throughout his school years to support himself—where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in only four years. While pursuing his doctorate in electrical engineering, he and a classmate, David Filo, joined forces to create a directory of websites that were organized by a hierarchy rather than a searchable list. In 1995, this venture became Yahoo! (“Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle”). Yang dropped out of the PhD program as Yahoo became an overnight success. From 2007-2009, he served as the company’s CEO—when at one point in time, Yahoo! was worth a whopping $130 billion. In 2012, Yang left the company and went on to form AME Cloud Ventures, a company that invests in entrepreneurs of technology-heavy startup companies. Yang’s contributions to the Internet as we know it today places him as one of the most influential tech entrepreneurs to transform all of Silicon Valley. He and his wife, Akiko Yamazaki, live in Los Altos Hills, California. In 2007, the couple pledged $75 million to their alma mater—Stanford University—to build the Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building (Y2E2). Ten years later, they generously pledged $25 million to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, the highest donation in the museum’s history.

Reshma Saujani: Founder of Girls Who Code

Reshma Saujani
Photo credit: Wikipedia; Creator: Adrian Kinloch

Born in Illinois to parents of Gujarati Indian descent, Reshma Saujani is an attorney, education activist and politician who first made a name for herself in 2010 as the first Indian American woman to run for U.S. Congress. While campaigning, she visited local schools and discovered a gender gap in the field of technology. In response to her passion for empowering women and fighting for women’s rights, she founded Girls Who Code, one of the country’s largest and most prestigious nonprofit organizations. To date, the organization has taught 300,000 girls through in-person computer science education programming. Globally, the numbers are even more impressive, having reached 500 million people through Saujani’s award-winning campaigns and New York Times-bestselling book series, “Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World.”  Saujani has authored other influential books that include “Women Who Don’t Wait in Line,” the international best seller “Brave, Not Perfect,” and she’s also captured national attention with her TED Talk, which has reached over five million viewers around the world. Saujani earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois, a master’s degree in public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and her Juris Doctor from Yale Law School.

Colonel Ellison Onizuka: First Asian Astronaut in Space

Photo credit: NASA

Born in Kealakekua, Kona, Hawaii, Colonel Ellison Onizuka made history as the first Asian astronaut and the first of Japanese origin to reach space. With dreams of someday going higher than the birds and reaching the stars, Onizuka’s nights of star gazing by the Pacific Ocean came to fruition. After graduating with honors from Kealakekua, Kona High School in 1964, he attended the University of Colorado, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering and a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering. In 1970, Onizuka joined the United States Air Force, where he served as a flight test engineer and test pilot at McClellan Air Force Base. Four years later, he attended the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base and became a squadron flight test engineer at the USAF Test Pilot School. In 1978, Onizuka was selected among 8,000 applicants to be one of 35 astronauts—and the first Japanese American—for NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. On January 24, 1985, he was aboard the space shuttle Discovery—America’s first classified manned military space flight—as a mission specialist, making him the first Asian astronaut to enter space. That same year, Onizuka, along with six other crew members, were chosen for the Challenger Flight 51-L. Tragically, on January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded only 73 seconds after liftoff, ending the lives of all aboard. Onizuka left us with inspiring words to live by: “Your vision is not limited by what your eye can see, but by what your mind can imagine. Make your life count—and the world will be a better place because you tried.”

As an institution steeped in diversity, Vaughn College welcomes students from all walks of life. If you’re looking to earn your degree at a college that will make you feel accepted, safe and empowered, look no further than Vaughn. We offer futureproof degree programs in engineering and technology, management and aviation. Apply today!