According to Cal Poly Career Services’ 2016-2017 Graduate Status Report, 97 percent of Cal Poly graduates find a career in their major. The three percent who do not are the exceptions. English senior Michelle Keidel, who aspires to become a pilot after her graduation is one of those exceptions.
“I’ve been interested in flying [ever] since I can remember,” Keidel said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to travel around the world since a young age, which is where my passion for traveling and other cultures comes from.”
This love is inspired by her mother, who is a flight attendant. However, Keidel came to Cal Poly as an animal science major, but when she began taking classes, she did not feel this area of study suited her interests. So, she made the switch to English.
“I have always loved to read and write, and for most of high school I planned on studying that in college,” Keidel said.
Although English is a passion for Keidel, her true goal is a career in aviation. “The English major is so broad, there is a lot someone can do with it. Not many people know that, so they are surprised to find out that someone who studies literature can also have a passion for planes,” Keidel said.
Her interests helped Keidel decide on her dream job: a commercial airline pilot.
“I didn’t always think aviation was an option for me. Deciding to work towards flight school and become an airline pilot is actually a recent goal of mine, but it’s something I’ve never felt more certain about,” Keidel said.
After graduating from Cal Poly this quarter, Keidel plans to work toward getting both her private and commercial pilot licenses. Before she can fly commercially, she has to train extensively, master aviation techniques and log numerous hours in the air.
“My long-term goals are to work for a major commercial airline one day and travel the world. I would love to visit Thailand and Singapore and explore more of China,” Keidel said.
Although she has participated in different flying lessons, one of her biggest challenges after graduation is saving money for flight school.
“Flight school is crazy expensive and I started saving as soon I decided this was something I truly wanted to do,” Keidel said. “I can see myself doing this in the future and that’s so important.”