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Jet Blue University Plane
Beacon College students on a field trip with the Boven Career Development Center strap in for an educational experience at JetBlue University.

Come fly with me, let’s float down to Peru
In llama-land there’s a one-man band
And he’ll toot his flute for you
Come fly with me, let’s take off in the blue
-Frank Sinatra

The passengers were buckled up and raring to go.

Tray tables upright. Cellphones switched off. Flight attendants prepared for takeoff.

So began the adventure for eight Beacon College students who recently taxied down the hallways at JetBlue University in Orlando. The trip marked the Boven Center for Career Development’s annual October flight to the New York-based airline’s proving ground for its 1,500 annual new hires. The visit coincided with JetBlue’s observance of October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month, during which the company honors workers with disabilities and introduces staffers to potential employees with disabilities.

“Because caring is one of its five founding values, [JetBlue] is educating those with disabilities that they provide an inclusive work environment and give serious consideration to their capabilities,” said SallyAnn Majoya, Boven Center career development specialist. “[Beacon’s visit] serves as a great opportunity [for JetBlue] to educate, connect, and recruit.”

Eight students — Katherine Riegelman, Benjamin Furfine, Eleanora Moore, Carlton Allen, Brandon Peters, Andrew Kuykendall, Hugo Potts, and Nilijah Alston — put in a full eight hours day at the facility housed at Orlando International Airport. It’s where JetBlue pilots, flight crew, technical support and customer service staff train.

Jet Blue University “Much like a job shadowing opportunity, students enjoy the opportunity to understand through experiential learning what types of jobs are available through the organization, develop their network, and expand their horizons,”  Majoya, said. 

 Expanding their horizons came easy courtesy of the Airbus A320, Embraer E190 and cabin simulators that afforded students a virtual opportunity to soar (in spirit) across the blue skies.

In addition to flying through the virtual danger zone, students toured the facility. JetBlue paired students with mentors who reviewed their resumes and drilled them on interviewing skills. A leadership paneled featured department heads outlining different jobs, requirements, training and company core values.

There was “lots of information about the different parts of JetBlue University and JetBlue as a company,” said Susan Ward, Boven Center coordinator. “I think each student probably got a little something different from each of their experiences.”

For Katherine Riegelman, the visit gave flight to a soaring sense of the possible.

It helped me “feel like I could have a career after I graduate,” said Riegelman, a senior and double major in psychology and human services at Beacon College, the first college or university accredited to award bachelor’s degrees to students who learn differently. “I think these trips are very valuable to the students as they grow in there career.”