Vaughn Graduate Lands Her Dream Job in Air Traffic Control

May 1, 2017 Vaughn Spotlights

Pursuing her passion has paid off for Vaughn College graduate, Jessenia Diaz ’10, as she landed her dream job as an air traffic controller at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens County, New York.

During her high school years, Diaz decided she wanted to become an air traffic controller. “I read articles about the air traffic control shortage at that time and saw an opportunity in the field,” said Diaz. “I researched schools in my area and discovered Vaughn. The rest is history.” Diaz applied to Vaughn and was awarded scholarships to help pay for her education. In addition to studying for her bachelor’s degree, Diaz said she put her money to work for her and earned a certificate in Vaughn’s flight dispatch program and took a series of courses in the Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative program, a partnership between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Vaughn.

“My professors at Vaughn helped me tremendously,” Diaz stated. “Some of my teachers were actual air traffic controllers from local airports. The kind of hands-on experience that they passed down to us was priceless.”

In December 2010, Diaz graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in airport management and general management, won the Board of Trustees award at spring convocation and was selected as the student commencement speaker for 2011.

“As a first-generation college graduate in my family, it was not only a proud moment for myself but for my family.” After graduation, she was hired by the FAA and attended a three-month basic air traffic control training program in Oklahoma while awaiting to see where she would be placed for an air traffic control position. “I was so excited to hear that I would be working at JFK airport,” Diaz said excitedly. “I was going back home.” After training for two years at JFK, she is now a fully-certified air traffic controller.

Working as an air traffic controller comes with enormous responsibility. “We are the pilot’s eyes and ears on the ground,” said Diaz. “Pilots may have the best equipment on the plane, but they depend on us to navigate them from the ground.” She describes her job as exhilarating and says that no two days are ever the same.

“I love my job and wouldn’t trade working in New York for anything,” Diaz said. “My time at Vaughn gave me the knowledge and experience to get me where I am today.”

Questions, comments, or want to learn more about Vaughn’s Aviation Management Bachelor Degrees and Air Traffic Control Program?  Contact us today!