Chicago — Students at Texas Southern University are one step closer to becoming pilots for a major airline company.
Last month TSU, one of nine HBCUs in the country to have an aviation management system, recently teamed up with Southwest Airlines, according to Click 2 Houston. The school, which already had a partnership with United Airlines, became the first HBCU to join Southwest Airlines’ First Officer recruitment program Destination 225° University Pathway.
The program creates a pathway for Black and other minority pilots to fly Southwest.
The partnership comes as the airline industry lacks diversity and continues to change. Director of Aviation at TSU, Terence Fontaine, said Black men represent 2.4% of pilots while Black women make up 0.6% of the industry.
“We want to support Sisters in the Skies and Women in Aviation, but we have to do a better job of recruiting from the high school level to make sure these ladies know there’s a bright career here,” said Fontaine.
For student Katherine Cabrera, a junior who is on a scholarship from United Airlines, the program is guaranteed to inspire future generations.
“Like a young girl could see me, for example, and think, ‘Oh, I never thought about a pilot.’ So, it’s just that small of seeing a representation that I never got to see,” said Cabrera.