Life After High School

It’s always exciting to have former students come back to visit, especially students whose stories of growth and success is so amazing!

Ismael and Jambert Taveras, two brothers at graduates of UAGC class of 2014, visited us as they embark on a career in aviation to let us know, excitedly, how they’re doing. They sat down with Donna McKenna, their former teacher, to talk about the after-high-school transition. Here are some highlights from their conversation . . .

Life after high school is all about reading . . .

We have to read a lot – we have to take a certification test to get the license and have to know the technician textbook and airframe textbook as if we have them memorized. If you get a question wrong, they ask you more questions. Classes can be 2-4 hours, and even 6 hours long.

 

Life after high school is about knowing how to figure things out . . .

The professors don’t tell you exactly what to do – they expect us to figure out what to do. If you sleep in class they can kick you out. If you’re late 10 minutes, you have to make up one hour by going to the hangar within two weeks, otherwise they mark you absent. You can only miss 10% of the class. If you miss 6.5 hours, you automatically fail the class, even if you are passing the tests. There is a lot they expect you to know; they only give you a hint about what to do. There were kids who failed the first week and never came back.

 

Life after high school is about what you did in high school . . .

I would have told myself to put more effort, stop cutting and read more. Do homework. Take notes – some tell you what notes to write down, some expect you to know. Nobody says anything when you’re messing up in class. They just expect you to act like an adult. Nobody calls home.  No one reminds you. Now we see the difference. We wish we had more “annoying” teachers. The ladder makes you be responsible for yourself when you’re not because, when you’re in college, you’re the one who has to be responsible. In college, they will tell you to just drop out if you don’t like to do what’s expected. They tell you, “if you’ve come to play or not do work, leave because you can’t learn here.”

 

Life after high school is about making your thinking visible, breaching . . .

Knowing how to breach helps because it’s a way to try and understand really difficult terminology that we have never heard before. We have to do a lot of problem-solving. You have to be referring to two different books at the same time to do the work. You also have to look at the professor’s work, and your own to figure out what you got wrong. They don’t tell you to do that. You have to know to do that. They give you a part from a plane and you have to examine it and evaluate the state it’s in – if it has scratches, corrosion, and such, and need to be changed or not. There are specific words you have to use to describe the condition of the part, like crack, sponginess, twisted, peeling, abrasion, dent, contamination failure. You have to figure out what fits best.

 

Life after high school is about knowing through doing . . .

You have to study – read, read, read, read, and read. Practice. You can’t use calculators on the test that the Federal Aviation gives you. There are specific formulas for each type of gas and oil the plane uses (depending on the year it was manufactured), the location of different parts on a plane and the weight of each part, and you have to memorize these formula to apply them and find things like the center of gravity.  The purpose is to know how to maintain planes.

 

And life after high school is about all the relationships you’ve built as a teenager . . .

It also helps that my parents are always asking how we’re doing, what we’re learning, and they make sure we are well fed.