Former schoolboy athlete fulfils dream of becoming a pilot
After years of jumping hurdles at the annual Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships, Kingston College alumnus Jovaine Atkinson has jumped his final hurdle in becoming an airline transport pilot.
Having started his athletic journey in 2012, Atkinson had a plan to use it as a means to an end, which was to fulfil his childhood dream of becoming a pilot. He was awarded an athletic scholarship from Liberty University in Virginia where he pursued a degree in aeronautics while still making strides as an athlete.
"I know my parents would not have been able to afford the dream that I have and I knew deep down, if I was successful at track and field, I would be able to get a scholarship to go to the United States. Fortunately, I was very successful as a track athlete and got the scholarship," he explained.
"I've always wanted to become a pilot since I was a child. I've dreamt of this moment honestly, and to see it finally come to fruition speaks volumes to the hard work, dedication and the things that I had to go through to get there," Atkinson said proudly.
Recalling the obstacles he had to face over the five-year period of his studies, Atkinson indicated that he experienced so much that gave him many reasons to quit, but he was persistent, not allowing his struggles to hold him back.
"From the get-go, there weren't any flight schools in Jamaica at the time. [There was also] the financial constraints with my socio-economic background, being a 19-year-old alone in a foreign country. And in my third year of college, I almost lost my scholarship because of an injury. I am also a minority because this profession is about 3.5 per cent blacks, and through flight training I experienced discrimination since we were judged a lot harder than our counterparts," Atkinson disclosed about some of the challenges he faced.
But the 27-year-old was determined and held true to his alma mater's motto 'The brave may fall but never yield'. He expressed gratitude to his parents for instilling values that have kept him grounded. But along with that, there had to be a lot of hard work.
"I feel relieved; it was tough because getting through airline training is no easy feat. It was tough even from the days of my flight training days. It's a lot of studying and long nights. It's nothing to scoff at," he pointed out.
One of Atkinson's goals as a student was to fly for Jet Blue, and he achieved that in his training period. Now he wants to soar higher with main line carriers, whether it be United, Delta or American.
"I do want to fly wide body air planes," he said with a chuckle.
"Here I am today, a licensed airline pilot," Atkinson told THE WEEKEND STAR.