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CAU honors 2022 graduating class

California Aeronautical University graduates were honored at their commencement ceremony at Meadows Field Airport on June 11. The graduates heard from fellow students and retired U.S. Navy Capt. J. Charles Plumb, a former fighter pilot who survived 75 missions in Vietnam and nearly six years as a prisoner of war.
California Aeronautical University’s graduating class. Photo courtesy of California Aeronautical University.

Graduates received their diplomas in the university’s various aviation degree programs in aviation studies, aviation business, and aviation science. CAU also honored its first graduating class of its aviation maintenance technology program.

Plumb, who helped develop the Navy Fighter Weapons School better known as ”TOPGUN “ was shot down on his seventy-fifth mission of the war in Vietnam and spent 2,103 days as a POW. He shared his message of transformation through adversity with graduates.

The class of 2022 is graduating in the midst of a global pilot and aircraft mechanic shortage with many opportunities ahead of them, thanks in part to the university’s partnerships with industry leaders.

“Members of the graduating class have already experienced successful ventures into the aviation industry and have accepted positions with airlines around the country, including SkyWest Airlines, Piedmont Airlines, Mesa Airlines, Horizon Air, and Republic Airways. After completing the required flight hours, these regional airlines can provide a direct pathway to major airlines such as American, United, and Delta,” the university said in a press release.

CAU Provost Michael Berry said, “California Aeronautical University is excited about the professional future of this 2022 graduating class—it is comprised of well-prepared future airline pilots, aircraft mechanics and aviation business professionals. They have demonstrated their persistence through the [COVID-19] challenges, developed competencies in the classroom and flight labs and we are confident they will provide fresh perspectives and youthful energy to help solve the aviation [industry's] challenges and maximize aviation industry opportunities.”

Student speaker and winner of CAU’s Outstanding Graduate Award Devin Rodriguez addressed his fellow graduates with messages of inspiration and perseverance.

Guest speaker retired U.S. Navy Capt. J. Charles Plumb addresses students and staff at California Aeronautical University’s graduation ceremony. Photo courtesy of California Aeronautical University. “I got into aviation due to a flight I took to visit family in Portugal. Onboard, I got a glimpse into the flight deck which opened up to me the world of aviation. From that moment, I knew I wanted to be sitting in that seat. The pilots onboard that 777 didn’t know it, but they sparked a dream. Class of 2022, what I wish for you is to continue to forge your dreams into reality. But most of all, I challenge you. I challenge you to inspire them. Make a difference in the lives of those around you and inspire them. Inspire them to push themselves even more than you pushed yourself. You may never know when a simple gesture, such as showing a kid the flight deck, will set him or her on a trajectory to sit in the very seat you sit one day.

“The future is bright for the graduating class of 2022. It hasn’t always appeared that way. There have been times where the work to achieve a milestone seemed never-ending and our world was turned upside down by a global pandemic that has left lasting effects on all our lives and even the very industry we belong to—leading us to question the very path that led us here. But when times got tough and through any doubt, you remembered your dreams and kept pushing.”

CAU President Matthew Johnston said the school “couldn’t be prouder” of the graduates. “Throughout the uncertainties of the pandemic over the last couple of years, these students remained steadfast in achieving their goals. We’re looking forward to seeing what they’ll accomplish next, and wish them the best of luck!”

Niki Britton

eMedia Content Producer
eMedia Content Producer Niki Britton joined AOPA in 2021. She is a private pilot who enjoys flying her 1969 Cessna 182 and taking aerial photographs.
Topics: Career, Student

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