By Vaughn College   |   August 9, 2018

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.


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.”


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.”


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.”


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!”


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.”