York College/CUNY Celebrates Friendship With American Airlines

The relationship between York College and its American Airlines neighbor at John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport continues to grow and indeed, to flourish.
York College/CUNY Celebrates Friendship With American Airlines

Dr. Geneva Walker-Johnson, Brian Broadbelt, Tanesha Reid, Karl Graham, Dr. Thomas Gibson, Front row: Edgar Sierra (kneeling) and Mark Najarian, General Manager, American Airlines at JFK.

Arthur Torno, Vice President of American Airlines for the New York area, is a new member of the York College Foundation Board; and David S. Lombard, manager, Alliances JFK at American Airlines, was a recent executive speaker at the CUNY Aviation Institute at York College. That event attracted students and faculty in the Aviation Management program and other areas of the college, to hear from the respected professional in this field of study.

Mr. Lombard, who teaches an aviation course at Cornell University, spoke to the students about the importance of networking now, while still in college, to enhance their employment outlook upon graduation.

According to Aviation Management major, Edgar Sierra, the idea for the Lombard lecture was a group effort by the student members of American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), York Chapter, the Women in Aviation Club and the Aviation Club. Students wanted to hear about job opportunities in Aviation in a distressed economy.

“Networking is important,” Lombard told them. “It helps with meeting people who may be able to give you a job down the road.”

Lombard added that York students have been impressive.

“In dealing with students from York College and in speaking with managers who have worked with York students, your reputation is outstanding,” said Lombard. “[And] we’re starting to hire again as people retire.”

American has indeed provided internships for York’s students in Aviation Management. Jose Cuevas, a recent graduate from York has been an intern and is interested in permanent employment with the company; and Edgar Sierra interned for three months over summer 2011 and now volunteers as a sort of goodwill ambassador at large, participating in volunteer activities. American Airlines has also been helpful to the college in the classroom as well.

“We have a managing director of American Airlines Cargo at JFK teaching a class on Cargo Management here,” said Sierra. “Mr. Rich Burkhardt teaches the class and he recently took us to JFK so we could experience the logistics of what we study in the book. To have someone who does it every day teaching us, is the best part.”

American has also extended invitations to York to personalize a gate at their terminal and assist with fundraising for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October; and during the recent Veterans Day salute in November, using banners bearing the York logo. The opportunity serves two invaluable purposes for York: It supports worthy causes and raises the profile of the college like an expensive billboard would -- only gratis.

The relationship with the premiere carrier matters greatly to York on many levels.

“The professional partnership we are cultivating in the aviation industry with organizations like American Airlines, positions our students for success,” said Dr. Robert Aceves, director of the CUNY Aviation Institute.

“The mentoring from leaders like Art Torno and David Lombard are inspirational, providing our students pathways to success; and the executive lectures are showcase examples in the quality of events, professionals and education at York College.”

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