With the holiday travel season upon us, travelers will be taking to the skies in record numbers. So, how do air traffic managers handle so much activity during this busy time of year? There’s more to it than you may think. Ronald Ruggeri, online technical specialist instructor at Vaughn College, shares his 33 years of experience and sheds some light on how these professionals oversee and coordinate air traffic operations.

Keeping spirits high

Keeping morale up during the holiday season is an important part of an air traffic manager’s role.  Thousands of planes take off and land every day, all around the world, which makes working as an air traffic controller a 24/7, 365 day-a-year job. It’s no surprise the number of departures and arrivals climb even higher during the holidays, thus keeping controllers at their posts and away from their families on these special days. Here are some ways air traffic supervisors keep spirits high in the tower:

  • Work closely with controllers to accommodate staffing schedules
  • Decorate the tower with lights and decorations to create a fun and festive holiday atmosphere
  • Provide food on holidays to make working on these days more enjoyable

Vaughn College student perspective

Rachel Underland, a junior studying airport management with a focus on air traffic control at Vaughn College, is an online student who works full time as a simulator pilot at New York TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control Facility) in Westbury, New York. She said she loves her job and credits Vaughn for their comprehensive curriculum which gave her the knowledge and training she needed to land her position. Underland shares her thoughts on the busy holiday travel season. “It’s an exciting time of year,” she said. “The days go faster and there’s more to do, but through it all, we have to be on the ball to help limit delays.”


Weather woes

Some of us may be dreaming of a white Christmas and the beauty of the season, but snow and ice can wreak havoc on air travel, causing delays and frustration for passengers and airport personnel.

“Communication is key to maintaining a smooth and safe flow of incoming and departing flights during the holidays,” Ruggeri said. “The holidays should be a happy time of year where passengers travel to be with their friends and family. It’s our job to keep passengers calm and ensure they arrive at their destinations safely.”

To keep order and efficiency during potential weather delays, air traffic managers must:

  • Anticipate and project weather impacts throughout the country to help airlines stay on schedule
  • Communicate with the traffic management unit to gauge how many flights are expected, and adjust this acceptance rate to accommodate arrival and departure work loads
  • Maintain communications on weather conditions between the airport authority, the air traffic controllers, the traffic management unit and the air traffic supervisors to ensure all are aware of when, where and how an aircraft may be cleared to land.

Heavy air traffic

No passenger wants to experience a delay, especially when they’re excited to arrive at their destination for the holidays, so it’s important to explain why these may be necessary to keep passengers and pilots safe. In the past planes would be put into a holding pattern where they would circle for a time until air traffic control approved an available runway for a safe landing. Today, it’s more common for airlines to hold passengers on the ground at their departure city rather than in the air―unless there is an unforeseen circumstance like last-minute inclement weather that hinders a safe landing. Air traffic managers may delay passengers on the ground level to:

  • Increase organizational efficiency
  • Increase safety of passengers and staff
  • Reduce stress on air traffic controllers and pilots
  • Save fuel
  • Decrease air pollution

Wherever your holiday travels take you, the faculty and staff at Vaughn College wish you and your family a happy and safe holiday season.

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Leonie BardenReaching for the stars took on a whole new meaning for Vaughn College alumna Leonie Barden ’07, a systems engineer for The Boeing Company at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Pursuing her passion

Growing up in New York City, Barden knew from an early age she had a passion for airplanes. This passion was met with challenges since she was surrounded by a family of scientists who worked in the medical field. Raised by her Jamaican single mother, Barden said she travelled often throughout her childhood and visited family in Jamaica.

She recalls a time when her mother asked her, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Barden replied, “Mom, I want to be a stewardess.” Barden looks back on that moment fondly as she’s come a long way since then having forged ahead in the industry as a mechanical engineer. It should be noted, that this success wasn’t without sacrifice, dedication and a large helping of courage.

Finding Vaughn

After high school, Barden attended Adelphi University for a short time and then enrolled in a local community college. After strong test scores proved she had an aptitude for science and math, Barden said her guidance counselor encouraged her to pursue her passion for flight.

“I knew I wanted to do something technical,” Barden said. “While my friends were taking business courses, I knew my path was taking a different direction. My counselor was instrumental in guiding me to find my destiny.”

She transferred to Vaughn College, where she enrolled in the aeronautical engineering technology Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree program. Upon earning her associate degree, Barden became focused on pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

At that time, Vaughn was seeking accreditation and thus transitioned to an ABET-accredited degree program. During that time, Barden worked full-time as a computer technician. She returned to Vaughn in 2004 on a part-time basis where she took night classes. The time and work paid off as Barden earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology: aeronautical and computer-aided design.in 2007.

Living the dream

Upon graduation, Barden was committed to finding her dream job. She applied to The Boeing Company and in April 2008 received a job offer at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida as a systems engineer. “It was a big move for me, especially leaving my current job at the time, but I knew I had to take the chance,” Barden said. “I’ve always been fascinated by airplanes and this was my chance to live my dream.”

Reaching for the stars

For the past 10 years, Barden has been working as a systems engineer where she manufactures hardware for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) space exploration programs which include the International Space Station (ISS) and Commercial Crew Transportation System. “Every day is different and presents a new set of challenges,” she explained. “My job is to take projects from the cradle to the grave, supporting the full life cycle of a product – from design to manufacturing and system retirement.”

Barden’s most recent project has been to work on Boeing’s (Crew Space Transportation CST-100 Starliner) program, the latest spacecraft design to transport crew to the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit. “It’s humbling and overwhelming to be a part of something that impacts mankind on this level,” said Barden. “All eyes of the world are on space travel. The entire experience makes me feel special. It’s a magical moment to watch a rocket launch and to know I had a part in making it happen.”

Vaughn’s impact on her career

Reflecting on her time at Vaughn, Barden said the College gave her a foundation to use the knowledge she acquired for critical thinking.

“You may not apply all or any of the formulas and theorems that you study so hard to understand in your daily tasks,” Barden stated. “However, understanding the concepts is critical to understanding the full spectrum of your field. You may not use it daily but at some point, you’ll tap into your knowledge to get the job done.”

When asked what motivated her to where she is today, Barden replied, “Determination and perseverance. Never give up on your dream. I reached for the stars, never imagining my work would literally make it there.”

Vaughn’s fall Open House is scheduled for Saturday, November 10 and Saturday, November 17 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. It’s a fun and informative day where interested students, along with their families, can meet with faculty and staff to ask questions and tour the campus.

Register today!

We all want to love what we do but turning a dream into a reality isn’t always simple. For 24 year-old Desiree Aguilar ’20, enrolling in the Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) program at Vaughn College’s Aviation Training Institute in May was the turning point to launching her dream career.

Breaking Barriers

Aguilar has always loved working with her hands. She recalls fond memories of growing up in Brooklyn, New York, where she would help her grandfather paint, work on cars, and do all sorts of fixing up around the house. “My grandfather encouraged me as a young girl that I could do anything I wanted in life―even work in male-dominated fields like mechanics,” said Aguilar. “He gave me the confidence to look past the stereotypes.”

Switching Gears

After graduating from high school, Aguilar worked for the next six years as a paralegal at a local law firm and took classes at a community college, where she studied psychology. During that time, she gave birth to her daughter, Divine. “I realized after becoming a mother that I needed to support myself and my daughter the best way I knew how,” Aguilar said. “And that way is working with my hands.”

Hands-on Experience

Aguilar was drawn to Vaughn’s Aviation Training Institute. “It was the perfect fit for my passion to work with my hands and my love of aviation,” Aguilar stated. She dove right into the program—hands first—and is loving every minute. Aguilar appreciates the one-on-one attention in the small class setting and the boundless industry knowledge of her experienced faculty. “The instructors at Vaughn have real-world experience and make me feel comfortable and right at home.” When it comes to working in the lab, she said the hands-on experience is an invaluable part of the program. “It may have taken me a few years to get here but now that I’m working toward earning my degree, the sky’s the limit on where I can go.”

Eyes on the Prize

Aguilar plans on graduating with her AOS degree in the fall of 2020, which is when she will also receive her Airframe and Powerplant Certificate. Her career goal is to work for a commercial airline at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport as an aviation maintenance technician. “My dream is to repair airplanes and handle the inspections,” Aguilar stated. “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) protocol is a very strict process and one that I will take very seriously. You can’t wing it!”

Opening Doors of Opportunity

Aguilar is grateful to her family who cares for her two-year old daughter while she’s in school, and to Vaughn for offering a program and a future she had only dreamed of before. “It’s a challenge balancing school and being a mom,” Aguilar said humbly. “I’m pursuing my dream, so my daughter can someday look up to me and know that I did it all for her,” said Aguilar. “Just as my grandfather encouraged me, I want to instill the same in Divine, so she can live her own dream.”

Thousands of aircraft take off and land every day, but did you ever wonder what it takes to keep them properly maintained and flying safely?

Aviation Maintenance Technician Day is May 24―a day when we recognize both the men and women who work behind the scenes. Additionally, we honor an early pioneer named Charles Edward Taylor, who made all of this happen.

History of Aviation Maintenance Technician Day

As history serves us, the Wright Brothers were the first aviation pioneers to make the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered aircraft. But did you know it was a man named Charles Edward Taylor who built the engine used to power the plane? To honor his achievement, Taylor’s birthday was selected to mark Aviation Maintenance Technician Day as a national day of recognition for aviation maintenance professionals. Aviation Maintenance Technician Day is currently observed by 45 states in the United States.

Job Outlook

According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians have been projected to grow five percent from 2016 to 2026, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. And according to Boeing, the industry will need as many as 648,000 new technicians by 2036. In May 2017, the median annual wage for aircraft mechanics and service technicians was $61,020. The time couldn’t be better to pursue a career in this field.

What it Takes to Become an Aircraft Maintenance Technician (AMT)

Working as an AMT―also known as airframe and powerplant technician―is a demanding career. It is a highly skilled job that requires licensing by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure candidates have mastered a broad range of industry-related knowledge and skills. AMTs perform routine maintenance on aircrafts and look for parts that need to be repaired or replaced, including: brakes, wheels, electrical systems and wings. Candidates who pursue a career as an AMT must fulfill a few of the following requirements:

  • Completion of 1,900 hours of class time and hands-on training before taking the licensing exam
  • Being able to work on different engine systems from varying manufacturers, along with the ability to apply knowledge learned from manuals for troubleshooting
  • Must be skilled in mechanical, electrical, pneumatic, hydraulic, composite and sheet metal applications

Skills and Responsibilities

For every flight that lands in the United States, there is a crew of AMTs who must inspect the plane and sign off on each protocol to ensure every facet of its mechanics is working properly and efficiently. Here are some of the skills and responsibilities required to do the job:

Skills and Requirements:

  • Be licensed by the FAA
  • Must be conscientious and thorough
  • Adhere to demanding schedules
  • Work well under pressure


  • Address immediate problems and resolve them before takeoff, or defer problem and ground flight for later repair
  • Use full knowledge of industry standards and apply troubleshooting skills
  • Sign off on all protocols to ensure a plane is safe to fly

Opportunity for Growth

AMTs working in their field have the opportunity to move up the ladder within their company. Here is a snapshot of the different types of jobs in the field:

  • AMT―performs routine maintenance and repairs
  • Lead technician―distributes, assigns and monitors work
  • Instructor―teaches general familiarization classes for the type of aircraft that airlines use along with classes on aircraft systems, procedures, safety and compliance
  • Aircraft Maintenance Planner―handles environmental studies, oversees land use planning, and participates in business development activities
  • Maintenance controller―works in a central location to help troubleshoot problems on the ground
  • Maintenance engineer―modifies aircraft

Vaughn Expert Weighs In

Fred Parham, associate director at Vaughn College’s Aviation Training Institute (ATI), has over 30 years of experience in the aviation maintenance field. Parham said the opportunities for AMTs have never been better than they are today. “Now is a great time to pursue a career in the field of aviation mechanics,” Parham said. “No two days are ever the same. It’s a serious job with great responsibility, but the rewards are endless.”

Vaughn College Can Get You There

Vaughn College’s ATI can prepare you for a high paying career as a certified airframe and powerplant technician in as little as 16 months. To learn more this exciting opportunity, register for our Aviation Maintenance Information Sessions on June 13.

Happy Aviation Maintenance Technician Day, and Happy Birthday to Charles Edward Taylor!

If working at an exciting, in-demand job that commands a six-figure salary with mandatory retirement age 56 and full federal pension benefits sounds too good to be true, it isn’t. In fact, a career as an air traffic controller may be closer than you think.

Here at Vaughn, we are one of only 33 colleges in the country to offer the Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) and the only program of its kind in the Northeast. We are always looking for driven, passionate students to fill this degree program.

What it takes

To become an air traffic controller, you can take one of two paths:

  1. Pass the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) biometric screening exam (which many do not pass) without any prior knowledge or training
  2. Attend an institution like Vaughn, which partners with the FAA to provide air traffic control (ATC) instruction

The benefit of attending a college like Vaughn is that not only do you get to bypass the biometric screening exam, but you will have the following advantages in your favor:

  • The FAA hires approximately half of its candidates from the AT-CTI and the military, so Vaughn students are in a better position to land a job
  • Access to new state-of-the-art facilities and training equipment
  • Ability to enroll in a fast-track program that prepares you for entrance exams in as little as one year

Eligible students

Vaughn welcomes incoming freshmen, transfer students and graduates from other colleges or universities to apply to the program.

Here’s how it works:

If you’re a freshmen or transfer student, you can enroll in of one of 10 bachelor’s or associate degree programs in the fields of aviation, management or engineering. Upon degree completion, you will be qualified to take the FAA entrance exam.

If you already have an associate degree or bachelor’s degree, Vaughn offers a fast-track degree program where you can complete your prerequisite courses for the FAA exams in a year and a half. Otherwise, it takes two-to-four years.

Start young, retire early

Being young pays off. Unlike other jobs where you must wait until you’re 62 or older to retire, the FAA requires air traffic controllers retire at 56. This FAA rule puts younger people like you in demand for this growing, lifelong career.

Achieve a consistent work/life balance

Most people think air traffic controllers have an extremely stressful job. Yes, the stakes are high. But the reality is that if you are highly organized and a quick-thinker, the stress factor is relatively minimal. What’s more, the FAA has certain mandates to help facilitate a calm working environment where air traffic controllers can focus and get their jobs done well.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Consistent work schedule
  • Scheduled breaks throughout your shift
  • Close-knit environment among other air traffic controllers
  • Potential to earn six figures after the first few years of service
  • Retire with full pension

Can you picture yourself as an air traffic controller?

Whether you’re fresh out of high school, a college student or college graduate looking to embark on an exciting career, Vaughn can help your future take off.

Contact us today to learn more!

Being a mom is a full-time job, and for most mothers, it’s not their only job. In fact, according to the US Department of Labor, 70 percent of women in the labor force have children that are under 18 years of age. Additionally, 75 percent of these women work full-time.

Although many women need to balance work with motherhood, some working moms are also getting an education to help advance their careers. These women defy the constraints of time. This Mother’s Day, we are celebrating one of our students, who is juggling many responsibilities so that she can build a brighter future for her 4-month-old daughter, Samantha.

Daniela Tabares ’19 is a Vaughn College aeronautical science major who will be celebrating her first Mother’s Day this month. Her daughter Samantha was born last year on Christmas Day and Tabares said she is forever grateful for her special gift.

Finding her path

Tabares is an inspirational example of how―with a positive mindset and unwavering determination―women can accomplish their goals and realize their dreams. “Being a mom has taught me so much,” Tabares said. “It’s not only rewarding and challenging, but it has opened my eyes and made me appreciate life in a whole new way.”

Growing up in New York, Tabares always had a passion for aviation. When she was a junior in high school, she joined the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) as a cadet. She says the ROTC was her “launch pad” and the experience that influenced her to apply to Vaughn after graduation to pursue her career in aviation.

Her time at Vaughn is opening doors to help advance her career. In addition to her academic studies, Tabares is working toward earning her private pilot’s license. She is also working at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport Terminal 1 in flight operations and is completing an internship at JFK Terminal 4, where she is working ramp control in the control tower.

“I believe it’s important to be well-rounded in the field,” Tabares stated. “My aviation education from Vaughn and my operations experience at JFK will prepare me to take on my first professional position after graduation.”

Balancing it all

Balancing her education, her job and being a mom is far from easy, but Tabares says she is focused and dedicated to all three.

“My family provides an amazing support system helping to care for Samantha when I’m working or at Vaughn,” said Tabares. “I’ve learned the importance of time management and how to separate my time between my education, work and motherhood. My ultimate motivation is looking into my daughter’s eyes every day. She is the light that guides my way.”

Paving the way

Looking to the future, Tabares’ dream is to open a flight academy for women and minorities. “Women empower other women,” Tabares said. “As a woman and a minority, I know firsthand what it takes to overcome challenges to pursue my dreams,” she continued. “Women have an important place in the aviation industry and I want to help future women aviators achieve their dreams by removing some of the obstacles that can get in their way.”

Reflecting on her own mother, Tabares said she wouldn’t be the woman she is today without her mom’s love and support. “My mother has taught me everything I know,” said Tabares. “She’s a superwoman. She’s my hero and I hope to be just like her someday.”

For her first Mother’s Day, Tabares is looking forward to a day off, and plans on spending the day at home with her daughter and family.

Are you looking to build a brighter future for yourself and your family? Schedule a visit and find out how a futureproof Vaughn education can get you on the path toward success.

You don’t have to be a frequent flyer to know how busy airports can be. With approximately 1.5 million people flying each day in the United States and over three million worldwide, airport managers have the challenging job of ensuring their airports operate safely and efficiently.

A world of its own

There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to managing an airport. Far more is involved than making sure planes take off and land. In fact, airport management has been compared to running a small to medium-sized city: The general airport manager serves as the “mayor” who oversees several managers who in turn specialize in separate fields of airport operations.

All in a day’s work

For airport managers, no two days are ever the same. To keep an airport running smoothly, all departments must operate like a well-oiled machine. Airport managers are responsible for running their own specific departments and they work closely with state and federal committees to ensure the rules and regulations of the airport are being met.

Here is a snapshot of a day in the life of some airport managers, along with the roles they play.

Operations Manager

The role of an operations manager is to supervise and coordinate the day-to-day landside and airside operations in the airport. They must possess outstanding management and communication skills and have full knowledge of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules, among other requirements.

Landside responsibilities:

  • Manage various airline terminals and concourses
  • Ensure the safety and flow of roadways for buses, passenger cars, etc.
  • Oversee retail operations, such as shops and restaurants
  • Assist in preparing annual budgets for airport operations

Airside responsibilities:

  • Ensure runways and taxiways are open and clear
  • Coordinate ground operations, including baggage and catering
  • Manage fueling
  • Communicate with air traffic control
  • Plan and coordinate VIP arrivals and departures

Safety Manager

There’s no doubt the safety of airline passengers is a priority. Internationally, safety managers follow the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices (SARP) to help manage aviation safety risks in coordination with their service providers. In the US, safety managers are responsible for promoting safety awareness by adhering to the FAA regulations and other agencies which include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Homeland Security. Here are some of the essential responsibilities of a safety airport manager:

  • Maintain the safety and security of the airport
  • Review and revise airport safety and security plans
  • Develop and implement employee safety policies and practices
  • Inspect runway lighting
  • Keep runways clear
  • Ensure airfield is protected

Environmental Manager

Protecting the environment plays a major role when it comes to managing an airport. In the New York City area alone, thousands of planes take off and land every day, leaving a stream of environmental issues to address. Environmental airport managers work closely with the FAA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure standards and regulations are being met to keep the environment and wildlife safe. These are some issues environmental airport managers are responsible for:

  • Properly handling and dispensing hazardous materials
  • Managing air, water and noise pollution
  • Managing traffic congestion
  • Managing responsible habitat practices to minimize bird strikes
  • Snow removal*

(*Did you know snow cleared at New York’s LaGuardia Airport is brought to a snow dump area where it can safely melt without harming the eco-system of local rivers?)

General Manager

As you can imagine, the role of an airport general manager is a monumental responsibility. It can take years of experience to land this position, as he or she must have a working knowledge of federal, state and aviation regulations, in addition to all aspects of airport operations. Airport general managers must possess exemplary management and communication skills, along with outstanding problem-solving skills. The general manager must possess the ability to:

  • Have an effective working relationship with various agencies, including the FAA, EPA, as well as federal agencies, like the Secret Service, and local fire and transportation departments
  • Monitor and manage all airport contracts and expenses within approved budget
  • Manage personnel and operational activities
  • Follow government rules and regulations that relate to airport operations

Ultimately, the general manager is accountable for how the airport functions on all levels.

What you’ve just read are only a few examples of the many positions and daily responsibilities of an airport manager. Could this be the career you’ve been looking for? Find out below.

What it takes to become an airport manager

Those seeking a career in airport management should have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a focus on business, airport or aviation management, or a related field. Vaughn College offers an airport management degree program which prepares students for the various functional areas of aviation and business management. Do you have what it takes to become an airport manager? Vaughn College opens doors to the future by providing students the opportunity to reach their goals and fulfill their dreams.

Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology hosted its third annual International Drone Day on Saturday, May 5, 2018. It was a genuinely high-flying experience as the College’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) club will welcome the public to explore the exciting field of drone technology.

About International Drone Day

International Drone Day is a collaborative effort that began four years ago to educate the public, media and local governments about the amazing ways drones are used for good in our society. Each year, more than 150 cities around the world simultaneously celebrate drones and their uses. Vaughn was proud to be a part of the excitement again this year.

“International Drone Day is one of our favorite days of the year,” said Utsav Shah ’18, president of the College’s UAV club and a senior in the mechatronic engineering program at Vaughn. “It not only brings awareness to all the good things drones can do, but sheds light on the possibilities of what drones will do in our future.”

Something for everyone

The UAV Club has planned a fun-filled day from start to finish. This year, attendees participated in several interactive workshops, including “Computer-Aided Design,” “Learn to Build a Drone,” “Programming with Python” and “How to Apply for a Remote Pilot Certification.” Additionally, there was a panel discussion on “Changing the Skies,” featuring a distinguished guest within the aviation and drone industries. Drone owners were invited to show off their skills and fly in Vaughn’s Hangar. The UAV club kicked things up a notch by inviting professional drone racing groups from the New York area to compete in a racing competition in Vaughn’s Hangar.

Drone technology heats up

Today’s latest technology has UAVs in the line of fire—literally. Last year, the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) used its first drone to respond to a six-story fire in the Bronx. The eight-pound tethered drone, equipped with high-definition and infrared cameras, transmitted live images to the commanding chiefs, the FDNY Operations Center and incident commanders on the ground, giving them a bird’s-eye view of the roof where firefighters were operating. The cameras provided vital images to help commanders make decisions on the best way to put the fire out while keeping FDNY members safe.

Future generation of drone aviators

Today, UAVs are setting the pace as our “eyes in the sky,” aiding in search and rescue, conservation, agriculture, sports, film and so much more. With his knowledge of mechatronic engineering, Shah says he has his sights set on pursuing a career in autonomous robotics systems. “Mechatronic engineering has given me a well-rounded foundation in mechanical, electrical and computer engineering to build drones for the future,” said Shah. “I believe we will see drones used for transportation and other practical purposes for the good of our society. The sky’s the limit on where we will see drones going next.”

Check out our events calendar to see what will be coming up next on campus!

Here at Vaughn College, we have one of the highest success rates among graduates who land jobs in their chosen fields. So, it’s no surprise that two of our commercial pilot alumni―Ameet Humesh Seeratan ’11 and Laurentino Gomes ’15―not only found jobs as pilots right after graduating, but also had the pleasure of co-piloting the same flight for Endeavor Airlines last fall.

two vaughn pilotsSome background on the two alumni

As a native New Yorker, Seeratan always believed he would pursue a career in psychology―until he took his first flight lesson at a summer aviation and psychology program during high school. That was when he became certain he was meant to be a pilot.

Growing up in Cape Verde, Africa, Gomes knew at an early age that he wanted to be a pilot. He would walk for more than 30 minutes to the closest airport just to watch planes take off and land. Knowing there weren’t any flight programs in his country, Gomes researched his options and discovered Vaughn College.

They both enrolled in the aircraft operations, or flight program, which put them on the path to where they are today.

Landing jobs as commercial pilots

Becoming a commercial pilot takes more than just earning a degree. It takes obtaining flight licenses, certificates and ratings before one is permitted to pilot an airplane. The aircraft operations professional pilot bachelor of science degree program has been developed to provide students proficiency in all areas of pilot skills to achieve the certified flight instructor level. This program enables students, like Seeratan and Gomes, to obtain those licenses and earn their ratings―from private pilot to multi-engine. Vaughn’s restricted airline transport pilot (RATP) rating allows students to reduce their FAA-required flight hours from 1,500 to 1,000, by completing the 60-credit program.

After graduating from Vaughn in 2011, Seeratan began working for American Eagle Airlines at LaGuardia Airport, where he flew for four years and earned additional flight time. In 2015, he joined Endeavor Airlines, earning his captain’s title after piloting for only 13 months.

Gomes remained at Vaughn after graduation in 2015, teaching students how to fly in Vaughn’s $1 million flight simulator lab. He says this opportunity gave him the added expertise and experience he needed to land a job as a commercial pilot. Gomes then moved to Boston, where he continued to teach. Shortly thereafter, he began working for Endeavor Airlines, where he’s been flying for the past year.

Small world, big dreams

Although Seeratan and Gomes grew up on different continents, their passion for flying was the common thread that brought them both to Vaughn to pursue their goals. Vaughn continues to set the pace for prospective pilots to live their dreams and take their futures to new heights. Today―more than ever―the institution’s aviation graduates are soaring high on the wings of success.

The Vaughn Experience

Don’t miss the change to learn more about Vaughn’s engineering, technology, management and aviation programs at our Open House on Saturday, April 14 at 10am. Space is limited – reserve your spot today!

Last October, Southwest Airlines celebrated one of its all-female crews by snapping a picture and posting to their social media. Although this is not the first time Southwest―or any other airline, for that matter―has unintentionally staffed an all-female crew, from pilots to flight attendants, it demonstrates a paradigm shift.

March 8, 2018 is International Women’s Day, where people worldwide celebrate women, honor their achievements, and push for gender parity. This is a holiday that’s near and dear to the women at Vaughn College, who are pioneers in traditionally male-dominated industries.

An Eye for the Skies

Rebecca Van Vlack - Aviation StudentRebecca Van Vlack, class of 2020, has worked her way to becoming a contracted cadet with the United States Air Force and is also an up-and-coming aviator at Vaughn College, paving the way for aspiring female pilots.

Her love for aviation dates back to her childhood, when she would see her father, a flight captain in the Unites States Marine Corps, live out his dream and quickly found that was her path as well.

Van Vlack enrolled in the aircraft operations bachelor’s program at Vaughn nearly two years ago. Upon enrolling, she immediately joined the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) and fell in love with the Air Force. “It was then that I knew I was on the right path,” says Van Vlack. She was recruited after only one year as a contracted cadet, acting as a testament to her dedication and passion.

She is currently working towards her instrument rating and completing her flight training at The Heritage Flight Academy in Ronkonkoma, New York, along with other Vaughn aviation students.

A Futureproof Career

Today’s global pilot shortage is fueling students like Van Vlack to earn their wings. She says more women are joining the military than ever before, and this interest may be leading them to pursue careers in aviation. With thousands of pilot seats to fill in the coming years, she believes the deficit may open new doors of opportunity for women pilots.

A Soaring Future

As a contracted cadet, Van Vlack will earn the ranking of second lieutenant in the United States Air Force when she graduates in the spring of 2020. She hopes to someday earn her commercial pilot’s license, however her current goal is to graduate and explore her career in the Air Force. “Vaughn is preparing me to fulfill my dreams,” said Rebecca. “The experience both in the air and on the ground is priceless.”

Learn more about the College’s aviation programs and see how a degree from Vaughn can prepare you for a soaring career in this in-demand field.