NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As millions of Americans prepare to travel for the Fourth of July holiday, many are preparing for major headaches at the airport — bracing for delayed and canceled flights that critics said is partly caused by a pilot shortage.
But professors at Tennessee State University said they want to do their part to encourage more people to become future pilots and increase representation at the same time.
Historically, Black Americans have been largely underrepresented in the aviation industry.
TSU Applied & Industrial Technologies Chair Ivan Mosley said part of the problem of attracting people to aviation starts in the classroom.
"Math — let me just call it like it is, math," Mosley said. "Some people, when they hear that term, it just freezes them up. I was one of those people."
This is why the school is happy to welcome students like Mateo Lannaman from Dallas in the fall.
"A lot of people call it the aviation bug. I guess it bit me, and I loved aviation ever since I was a little kid," Lannaman said.
Lannaman hopes to one day be a commercial airline pilot.
TSU offered him a full scholarship to study aviation management, as the school tries to increase the number of Black commercial airline and Air Force pilots in the U.S.
Lannaman said he was instantly impressed.
"The amount of people who are friendly, willing to help, just want to get to know the student on the personal level so they can help them succeed, I find that pretty impressive," Lannaman said.
Lannaman said he knows what awaits him will be hard work, but his future professors said they want to make sure when it comes to his success, the sky's the limit.