Aviation Major to Pursue M. Phil Degree at Cambridge University

Muhammad Khattak was always one step ahead in his quest for excellence at York College, CUNY. The recent graduate received three scholarships from the National Aircraft Finance Association and has now been accepted into the M. Phil in in Real Estate Finance program at Cambridge University.

            An internship obtained as a student in the CUNY Aviation Institute at York College opened Khattak’s eyes to career options in aviation that he had not previously known. It led to his application and subsequent acceptance into Cambridge University.

            “I did my internship with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) in properties and commercial development,” said Khattak. “It’s one of their Aviation Department units so I worked on lots of properties like the Ramada (built on Airport property) so the Port Authority is looking for new developers for the property.”

            According to Khattak, it was Don Free, his manager and mentor at the Port Authority who first told him that “aviation is more than planes," it's property as well.

”Doing this specialty (in graduate school) will help me use my aviation background and show how to maximize aviation return on investment properties,” said Khattak. “Business is about having something different to solve the problem. Aviation is like any other business, it’s just that [some of] our assets fly in the air.”

Asked how York prepared him for the next phase of his education and eventual career, Khattak had high praises not just for York, but for the industry professionals who are friends of the college and the Aviation Institute.

"Dr. [Chun-Pin] Hsu, Dr. [Olajide] Oladipo, Don Free (PANYNJ) and Mr. David Lombard (Alliance Manager at American Airlines at JFK) were all my mentors," said Khattak. "They all helped me with my application (to Cambridge) and in fact, Mr. Lombard is still mentoring me right now. I met him the first day I started at York. He’s created a monster [of me] -- but in a good way.”

Khattak added that education is not just the role of the student.

“Going to university is not one person’s task,” he explained.  “And it’s not always about the school, it’s about you. It’s what you put into it. You don’t have to go to Ivy League to get into Harvard or Cambridge. But it’s been everybody’s support here. To be honest, York is the best school I could have gone to. The support…I’m a person who can go directly to the president.”

Dr. Hsu is not surprised at Khattak’s success.

“He’s a great role model,” said Hsu. “He’s also the American dream. As long as they are willing to work, we are here to help them. I am encouraging all our students. The opportunities are there and our doors are wide open. We are willing to help them.”