14th Annual Black Pioneers in Aviation

Courtesy of Florida Memorial University

Florida Memorial University hosted its 14th Annual Black Pioneers in Aviation program in the Lehman Auditorium, on Wednesday, March 29.

Captain Theresa Claiborne, the first African American woman to be a United States Air Force pilot in history, was today’s guest speaker.

Dozens of our university’s aviation students, faculty, staff, and honored guests listened intently as Captain Claiborne shared her story of challenges and successes.

She spoke passionately about what it means to be a good leader and the vital role of HBCUs.

“Take advantage of the legacy and experiences only HBCUs can provide, remembering that these institutions were established because others did not want you to succeed, so students put your nose to the ground and come prepared and ready,” she said. “Our kids need something to inspire them, our kids need role models, and they must be motivated to do better. This is something that is very important to me, and I am pleased to be here to speak to our students about achieving their career goals in aviation.”

Captain Claiborne is also the second African American woman Captain for United Airlines.

She shared that there are 168,000 pilots in the U.S., five percent are women and less than one percent are Black women.

She is the co-founder and current president of Sisters of the Skies, a nonprofit organization that was created to help young girls with a desire of becoming pilots.

Florida Memorial University’s aviation program offers the following degrees, BS-Aeronautical Science (Air Traffic Control), BS-Aeronautical Science (Flight Education), and BS-Aviation Management.

Since the program’s inception, more than 500 students have graduated and 85 percent of them have landed jobs in the industry as commercial airline pilots, airport ground, and support staff all over the world.

FMU’s aviation students also presented Captain Claiborne with a special certificate of appreciation.