By Vaughn College   |   March 15, 2019

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are celebrating another hardworking female student who is paving her own path at Vaughn College. Strong family ties and a commitment to excellence have set Alexa Cruz ’22, an aircraft operations major, on a trajectory of success as she embraces her freshmen year at Vaughn College to one day become a commercial airline pilot.


As an only child growing up in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, Cruz said she was raised to dream big. Throughout grade school and high school, she always set high standards for herself and maintained exceptional grades. “As an Asian-American, people tend to stereotype you as a high achiever,” Cruz explained. “I never bought into that notion. My drive comes from within, knowing that I don’t ever want to look back on my life and have regrets.” From a young age, she started the steps to becoming a commercial airline pilot.


Cruz explained how her parents are her greatest influences in her life. Becoming a pilot was never on her radar until she reflected on their jet-setting careers as shoe designers that she realized she wanted to experience the world firsthand. “There’s so much beauty in the world,” Cruz said. “I always enjoyed hearing my parent’s stories, but I decided I didn’t want to live through other people’s experiences. I want to live it and experience it for myself. It was then that I decided I wanted to become a pilot and travel the world.”


During her senior year in high school, Cruz was at the point of choosing a college. She knew Vaughn was the one and only school for her. “Vaughn has it all,” Cruz said. “Their aircraft operations program was the perfect fit to fulfill my dream of becoming a pilot, and their reputation is second to none. They exceeded all my expectations.” Vaughn’s wide variety of college programs secured her decision to attend.

Cruz expressed her belief that although the aviation field has been a male-dominated field in the past, women should not be discouraged to set their sights on the skies. “I’m proud to be a female Vaughn student,” Cruz said. “The college offers a diverse environment where both men and women can feel confident that they are offered an equal opportunity in all fields of study.”


We all have our passions. For Cruz, it’s the game of basketball. From the age of 10, she has been playing the sport on school and travel teams, but never knew playing a college sport would be a part of her experience with Vaughn. “Playing basketball teaches you to be both a leader and a team player,” said Cruz. “It’s been the cornerstone of my life, guiding me to balance life and work while grounding me in the mindset to succeed.” Last summer, Cruz was recruited by Vaughn’s athletic department to play basketball for the college. “I never imagined I would play college basketball,” Cruz said humbly. “It’s more than I ever dreamed of and is just what I needed to balance out my education here at Vaughn. I get to experience the best of both worlds.” It has always been Vaughn’s mission to provide opportunities for students to get involved in the College’s athletic programs, campus activities and professional development in their respective fields.


As a freshman in her second semester, Cruz said her favorite part of being a Vaughn student is her involvement with an industry-driven community that’s helping to accomplish her goal of becoming a pilot. “Living on campus is one of the best decisions I made to making the most of my experience at Vaughn,” Cruz said. “Just being here and experiencing college life is rewarding, knowing I’m working hard toward my dream.” Cruz joined the Women in Aviation Club on campus and said being a member is a great way to network and connect with older students who are making things happen. Vaughn’s college network allows students to get hands-on experience with industry professionals during their time on campus. “It’s inspiring to see how our peers are advancing their careers,” explained Cruz. “It drives me even harder, knowing I’m living my dream at Vaughn.”


Because it is Women’s History Month, we asked Cruz if there is a woman who has been influential in her life?

“Hands down, my mom is the most influential person in my life,” she stated without hesitation. “She not only works hard for our family, but she will go out of her way to help others without thinking twice about it. She gives without ever expecting anything in return. She has the biggest and most generous heart and I’m proud to call her my mom.” Cruz said her mom is her best friend, and on days when she’s feeling stressed or overwhelmed with school, she replays her mom’s words in her head to get her through her day: “I love you to the moon and back.”

“My dreams of becoming a commercial airline pilot may not be taking me to the moon, but who ever thought my mom’s words would someday put me on a journey to the skies?”

Have you ever dreamed about becoming a pilot? If you are wondering how to become a pilot as your future career, register for our Open House on Saturday, April 13 to learn more about taking your dreams to the skies. Let Vaughn help you achieve your dreams of earning a commercial pilot’s license.

Also, check out the insights of Kirei Watson ’18on landing her dream job as a mechanical design engineer.