Southwest Airlines is passionate about giving back to the communities we serve. We recently teamed up with Plano Academy to provide a unique learning experience for the senior class of Plano Academy High School. In this four-part series, senior student, Chancei White shares how an experience at Southwest Airlines provided hands-on experience and real world business understanding!
Here at Plano Academy, we foster an innovative, project based learning environment through STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) based learning. Our school is a wonderful example of students acquiring 21st century skills. Recently, our senior class of Plano Academy High School got the wonderful opportunity to receive a specialized tour from Employees around Southwest Airlines Headquarters. Southwest is one of our biggest cheerleaders! They have given our school unique learning opportunities and provided internships to some of our learners, showing huge support to our interdisciplinary community.
One specific way Southwest Airlines supported our learners this year was by partnering with our seniors for one of our projects. We were able to choose a department of interest and from there our Southwest Airlines mentors came up with business challenges for us to potentially solve.
Thankfully, our wonderful mentors know that all work and no fun makes for a dull senior year and granted us an amazing behind-the-scenes tour. As a senior class, we started a general tour into the hangar. This is where they house planes for their maintenance check-ups. During the tour, we had the opportunity to see what a dismembered plane looks like. A few engineers took us into the plane and showed us some important components needed to ensure safety and comfort. After that, we viewed a couple of the Culture Centers. We learned that a Culture Center is basically like an upgraded version of a break room; Southwest has them all over their campus! Each Culture Center is uniquely designed with a certain theme. My favorite was the Halloween Culture Center (mainly because of CEO Gary Kelly’s life-size Halloween costumes). After that, we walked to the training center of Southwest Airlines. We went over the process of becoming a pilot, and we even got to try out some of the safety training equipment hands on! When we walked through the facility, we ran into multiple pilots at different stages in their careers still learning and practicing—amazing! Let’s just say ... all the cool, up-to-date equipment isn’t there just for decoration.
Once we finished our general tour, we split up into departments of our interest to take a specialized tour by some of the senior managers. It was an amazing experience getting to witness some of our dream careers first hand. It gave me such a rush of happiness and motivation to work hard and stay dedicated! I’m sure my whole group felt my same joy from being in such a welcoming environment. Thanks to my mentors, Sonia Avila and John Jones! You guys truly rocked my world!