2017 Success Stories: Taking flight in BGSU’s aviation program
By Ann Krebs
When Samantha Hannon visited Bowling Green State University with her middle school hockey team, she knew it was the right college for her. In fact, Hannon was so sure after she visited a second time with high school friends for a football game, she only applied to one school: BGSU.
Even though Hannon is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in aviation management and operations from BGSU’s College of Technology Architecture and Applied Engineering, it took a little while to find the right fit for her.
“Like most college students, my major wasn’t my first choice,” said Hannon, who graduated from high school a year early in Hamilton, Ohio. “I started in sport management, thinking that I wanted to work with sports teams to help plan their traveling for events and games. Then, after talking to my adviser, switched to tourism, leisure, and event planning, thinking that it might be a better fit.
“Finally, I realized what drew me to this industry wasn’t because of the sports teams or other potential customers involved, it was because of my love of aviation. Once I declared as an aviation studies major, it was like I had finally found where I fit in and all my interests were coming together. It was like no feeling I had ever had before, and I knew aviation management and operations was the perfect fit for me.”
Hannon liked that faculty were quick to learn her name and her classmates and remember the small things about each student.
“It also was neat to learn about the different experiences that each staff member has had and how it led them to BGSU,” she said. “I loved that the core classes were small and personal, and it was easy to branch out to other students who shared the same interests.”
Hannon was involved in several on-campus activities, including Omega Phi Alpha – Service Sorority and Alpha Eta Rho – Aviation Fraternity. She also helped out around the Bowling Green Flight Center, including the annual aviation banquet.
She obtained a co-op at Million Air Orlando in central Florida in December and has been working there ever since. Currently, she is a customer service representative and is responsible for making sure the day-to-day operations of the airline’s fixed-base operator (FBO) run smoothly.
“I answer calls, take reservations and relay information to customers,” Hannon said. “I make sure our line service is aware and updated on flights coming in or out of our FBO. I also am in charge of making every customer feel welcomed and taken care of during their stay here.”
Her experiential learning experience at Million Air Orlando has opened her eyes to what her career may look like going forward.
“I think the people I’ve met and the connections I’ve made with the community have been the most exciting and eye-opening part of my job.” Hannon said. “I meet student pilots who are just starting out in their careers and I meet pilots who have been flying longer than I’ve been alive. Every day there is something new happening, and I’m so lucky that I get to share each experience with my wonderful coworkers.
“With my experiences, I know I made the right choice in aviation. I really want to move forward with corporate and private aviation.”
Hannon credits her time at BGSU for preparing her not only for her first job but for a career full of challenging experiences and exciting opportunities.
“I think a lot of BGSU and the aviation program had what I was expecting as far as the ‘college experience’ goes, but I never could have imagined meeting the people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made and the great connections in the aviation industry,” she said. “Aviation is such a small world, but the possibilities are endless if you know the right people.
“In my college career, I think landing my co-op job has been my proudest moment. My education really gave me the upper hand and experience needed to excel in this position.”
After graduation, Hannon plans to continue working at Million Air Orlando because central Florida is “an amazing place for aviation right now.” Ultimately, she hopes to branch out into the charter business and become a crew scheduler.
Since Hannon has been in Florida since December, she already misses BGSU and her friends and classmates.
“The people I met at BGSU and the memories we shared,” she said, “will always be my favorite part.”