A group of 39 motivated and determined Miramar High School juniors and seniors reached new heights this academic year as they participated in the first Aviation Technician Career Dual Enrollment program at the Emil Buehler Aviation Institute at Broward College.
The program – a partnership between Broward County Public Schools and Broward College – "is an answer to the industry's need of a new workforce who is highly skilled and highly trained, ready to meet the global needs of aviation maintenance," said Sean Gallagan, associate dean of transportation programs at Broward College.
Tailored for 10th, 11th and 12th graders, this three-year program requires students to attend their normal hours of high school classes plus two additional hours of after-school instruction at Broward College five days a week
"These kids need to be driven," Gallagan said. "They need to be able to say, 'I know what I want to do. This is it, and I'm going to stick with it for three years.' "
Miramar High School senior Kiara Lynn Shannon said she is grateful her school offers the dual-enrollment program.
"I found the program interesting because my family was involved with mechanics and working with cars," she said. "But they never thought of aircraft. So I am the first person in my family to be involved and enrolled in something like this."
Junior Morshalin Rafi discovered his interest in aviation through a friend.
"At first, I didn't really like planes at all but my friend took me with him to fly a plane, and I was the copilot," he said. "I thought I was going to be a pilot."
But it was Rafi's teacher who encouraged him to take his love of flying into a different direction by enrolling in the mechanical aviation program.
"Once I joined the program and found out how to work on mechanics, I liked it," he said.
Rafi and Shannon were not the only Miramar High School students who were eager to join the dual-enrollment program. In fact, 30% of the 39 students who were ready to make their mark in the mechanical aviation field were female.
"I have been in technical education for almost 15 to 20 years, and I have never seen so many females interested in a particular program," Gallagan said. "It is really neat to see these females get involved and enjoy it."
Shannon said she was thrilled to have so many females by her side in the program but it was challenging for everyone involved.
"As soon as we get finished with school, we head straight to Broward College," she said. "We have six classes in total and the addition of dual enrollment. So it does take a huge toll, but with dedication and studying, it sets us up for success."
The course work is the same level for students and adults and has not been altered to fit the needs of a high school student.
"What is being taught to these students is the same thing that is being taught to our adult students and for all technicians across the country because we all follow the same rules and regulations of the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration)," Gallagan said.
Dually enrolled Miramar High School students will complete one FAA certificate by the time they graduate.
Students then have the opportunity to continue their education at Broward College to complete their associate of science degree in aviation maintenance management. By 2024, students can obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace science.
"It was challenging juggling high school and college courses," Shannon said. "Graduating is a good feeling. I can finally go to college and start working on what I really want to do."