Aviation Students Selected as Pathway Cadets

Aviation Students Selected as Pathway Cadets

Five students from the OU Extended Campus School of Aviation Studies have been selected as the first class of university students to take part in the Southwest Airlines Destination 225° pathway program.

The School of Aviation Studies is just one of four flight schools in the nation that can offer students the chance to participate in the Destination 225° program, which is open to students in OU’s Professional Pilot or Aviation Management – Flying concentrations who have earned a private pilot certificate. The program is designed to ease the barriers to becoming a pilot by offering support to cadets as they earn their ratings. Throughout the process, Destination 225° will provide recruitment, screening, selection, training and placement strategies to cadets, as well as tuition assistance and mentorships with current pilots.

The students chosen for the program—Cortlyn Goldman, Jackson Hamilton, John Parsons, Scott Rourke and Nicholas Zahn—will be eligible to work as Certified Flight Instructors at OU for the year after they graduate, as they accumulate the necessary flight hours required to pilot commercial aircraft. They will then be eligible to be hired at one of Southwest’s planned partner carriers as first officers while building their professional careers and preparing for the opportunity to ultimately fly for Southwest Airlines.

With the need for pilots at an all-time high in the U.S. and internationally, there has never been a better time for individuals who aspire to a career as a pilot to reach for their dreams.

“I grew up five minutes from Love Field (in Dallas),” said Parsons, an Aviation Management – Flying senior, “and Southwest has always been my family’s airline that we fly. Being able to fly for an airline that I’ve flown with my whole life was the major reason I chose Destination 225°. The company culture at Southwest Airlines is the best fit for me, and I’m excited to be on track to join the rank of Southwest pilots.”

Rourke, an Aviation Management – Flying senior and co-captain of the OU Flying Sooners flight team, is a third-generation pilot whose mom and uncles have all flown for major airlines in the U.S.

“What I see in Southwest is a lot of what I see in the flight team,” he said. “It’s a group of people who love what they do and can’t think of doing anything else. They’re happy to get up and go to work for that 6 a.m. flight and interact with the customers.

“I’m super excited to be part of this first cohort. They really make you feel like you’re part of the Southwest family and not just another number in their pathway program.”

Partnerships like Destination 225° are one of the key features that the School of Aviation Studies offers students, as they help qualifying students launch their aviation careers while receiving excellent flight training and education at OU.

“I’ve always loved everything aviation, since I was young,” Parsons said. “Every time you fly, you have to use a new part of your training in a different way. You never know what’s going to happen and where your training will come into play. I’m happy to be in a field that takes constant skill and constant attention to detail.”

With the need for pilots at an all-time high in the U.S. and internationally, there has never been a better time for individuals who aspire to a career as a pilot to reach for their dreams.

Visit the School of Aviation Studies website for more information about the flying and non-flying degree programs and pathway programs available to students. For information about additional educational opportunities for working adults, visit the OU Extended Campus website.

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Myk Mahaffey

Michael Mahaffey holds degrees in journalism and psychology. He is a writer and editor with more than a decade of experience writing for print and digital publications, including award-winning coverage of the rodeo industry. In his spare time, he writes fiction, in addition to tinkering with graphic design and photography.