Perseverance was the message AOPA President Mark Baker delivered to the graduating class of 2020 at California Aeronautical University during a recorded video at their September 12 ceremony.
“What an accomplishment to graduate in a year filled with so much upheaval,” said Baker. “Upheaval that most of us have never experienced before, or ever thought we would see in our lifetime. The fact that you have persevered and kept going through it all is such an accomplishment. And I hope that you use that perseverance long after you have left CAU,” he shared.
This year the students learned that perseverance and adaptability go hand in hand as they adjusted to a new way of life on campus. “Overall, the students have adapted well,” explained Smith-Kohls. “Change like this boosts their professional development, which is one of the many concepts we work on with our students throughout their education and training at CAU.”
CAU made many accommodations to support students in continuing their education and to keep life on campus as normal as possible. “We implemented rigorous health and safety standards including closing the campus to visitors, temperature checks, social distancing, mandatory masks, encouraging frequent hand washing, closing the Sky Way Café to campus nonresidents, and limiting off-campus activity,” said Smith-Kohls. In order to keep flying, she also explained that “all surfaces were sanitized after each use to include CAU flight training aircraft.”
“I am extremely proud of our CAU graduates,” said CAU President Matt Johnston. “All of them have put forth the hard work and dedication to earn their diplomas. If I could offer a message to our graduates or anyone pursuing their dreams of becoming a professional pilot or wanting to work in the aviation industry, it would be to keep dreaming, keep believing in yourself, and stay connected with the aviation community.”
Baker finished his remarks by letting the graduates know that they have the support of not only their friends, family, and teachers, but also AOPA and the aviation community. “You have a lot of people rooting for you,” said Baker. “We believe in you and we know you have what it takes to make it out there. And that’s why we are here today. To celebrate all that you have accomplished and all that is still out there for you to do! Congratulations to the class of 2020 at CAU!”
Many of the graduates are set to fly for Mesa Airlines, Piedmont Airlines, Air Wisconsin, SkyWest Airlines, Endeavor Air, Barnes Aviation, and ExpressJet Airlines. Others will continue at CAU or other educational institutions in new capacities, working as certificated flight instructors or administrators. Others plan to join the military or work in disaster and emergency management and aviation safety management.