By Vaughn College   |   March 6, 2018

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.


Rebecca Van Vlack - Aviation Student

Rebecca 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.


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.


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.