For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to fly above the clouds. It all started with a family vacation to Jamaica when I was six years old when I got on a plane for the first time. I walked past the flight deck, getting a glance at all the buttons and the pilots. Then I went to my seat by the window and was amazed that we could be among the same clouds I saw when I looked out the window from my home in Brooklyn. From that moment, I knew I wanted to be a pilot.
However, difficulties in middle school almost stopped my dream before it could begin. I went through periods of acting out in my classes and fell behind academically. A guidance counselor suggested that I might enroll in school at Greenburgh 11 on The Children’s Village campus for 8th grade. My family decided to try it; it was one of the best decisions ever made.
While there were challenges, including commuting two hours from Brooklyn to Dobbs Ferry every day, there were also new opportunities and a support system I didn’t have in my old public school. I dedicated myself to my studies, wanting to get back on track to eventually becoming a pilot. I also enrolled in the Children’s Village WAY program, where I found mentors and learned skills to serve me in all areas of life. I am proud that even though I started the 10th grade reading well below grade level, with the help of my counselors and teachers, just a few short years later, I graduated top of my class.
The Children’s Village and the WAY program continued to support me in my journey even after graduation. Ms. Fulton-Stanley helped me apply to Vaughn College, where I got my Associate’s and Bachelor’s degree. The WAY program provided financial assistance while I was a full-time student working and taking pilot lessons. Most importantly, all my mentors always encouraged me to never give up on myself and to persevere to achieve my goals.
I recently completed all my pilot certifications and am happy to say that I am officially an airline pilot. Flying the Embraer 175 for United Express, proudly operated by Mesa Airlines. I am also honored to serve on the Board of Trustees at CV and hope to one day create a scholarship that helps young people at The Children’s Village pursue their dreams after high school graduation.
I am proud of myself for never giving up on my dreams, and glad that with a bit of help, I was able to keep my promise to my six-year-old self to soar among the clouds.