Happy National STEM Day! The Campus Reach Team at Southwest Airlines is committed to encouraging students of all ages to realize their passions in the realm of science, technology, engineering, and math. The Team hosted Aviation Days in Denver and Houston, and will host the event once more in Dallas this weekend, to introduce local students in third through eighth grade to STEM careers in aviation. Read more to hear from Structural Mechanic Nikki Sereika, who lends her time to Aviation Days and encourages students to pursue careers in STEM.
Looking back on the start of my Southwest career, I never could have imagined it would become what it is today. My career began at Southwest Airlines University (SWA U), our internal training department at the Company, but after doing a “Day in the Field” to learn about careers in Technical Operations (Maintenance), I discovered a new passion that brought me to where I am now. I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands, and in this role, I am able to channel that into everything I do. Since joining the Tech Ops Team, I’ve also been able to encourage others to consider outside-the-box careers. Events like Aviation Day are a great reminder of what I love about Southwest and, particularly, working in STEM.
The intent of Aviation Days is to inspire students about the different career paths that exist in the world of aviation. Kids come to Aviation Day with clean slates, ready to learn and explore. My favorite part of the day is answering all the questions they have. Although it might take them some time to warm up to everyone, they end up inspiring each other’s curiosity to learn more. I can share my experiences with them to facilitate their learning. Before you know it, they are thinking more about the world of aviation!
Throughout the event, students visit various stations, where they participate in activities such as flying desktop simulators, for hands-on experience in the work that People at Southwest do every day. The kids hear from many different key players in our industry, including Mechanics like me, as well as Pilots. Throughout the day, students are exposed to the wide variety of work we do here. In fact, that variety is my favorite part of the job.
One of the best parts about Aviation Days is that there is no cost to attend. Students can experience all that the world of aviation has to offer them, with no financial burden to their families. Boy and Girl Scouts can even work toward earning their respective aviation badges as a part of the day’s activities.
At the end of the day, the kids leave with insight into careers available to them in the future—jobs they may not have even known about! More importantly, I love seeing them leave with the confidence that they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up. There are no limits to the opportunities available to them. Nothing warms my Heart quite like knowing I play a role in creating the future leaders in STEM … and hopefully, at Southwest Airlines!