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Two recent JCSU graduates accept IT roles with American Airlines

Photo Courtesy: Zabdiel Gonzalez ‘20
Photo Courtesy: Zabdiel Gonzalez ‘20
Zabdiel Gonzalez ‘20
 Charlotte, N.C. / October 14, 2020 - Two recent graduates are excelling in their new roles with American Airlines. Winstongabriel Douglas ‘20 and Zabdiel Escanola Gonzalez ‘20 started with the company in June, just one month after graduation. Despite announcing layoffs in August, American is beefing up diversity in its IT unit as the industry struggles with public health safety issues and economic challenges due to COVID-19.

“I’m really happy about my new role with American Airlines,” said Douglas, a software developer with the company. “Their recent efforts to recruit from HBCUs proves they recognize the talent we produce at our institutions.”

Two years ago, the airline giant sponsored the Black Enterprise Smart Hackathon for the first time. Impressed with the talent pool, the carrier returned in 2019. American Airlines that year hired 10 student participants, including Douglas. 

Photo Courtesy: Winstongabriel Douglas ‘20
Photo Courtesy: Winstongabriel Douglas ‘20
Winstongabriel Douglas ‘20
 “The hackathon helped prepare me for my current role. One of the apps used during the hackathon is the same company that American Airlines currently uses for their tech data. Participating in that competition provided me additional training prior to starting my new role.”

Gonzalez was able to land his position as a software developer when another participant of the BE Smart Hackathon was unable to move to Texas for the position with American. As a DACA student, Gonzalez is aware this opportunity may not be possible without the education and guidance received at Johnson C. Smith University. 

“This is my dream job,” Gonzalez said. “It was important that I had a job where I could be financially stable post-graduation, and I have that. It’s a plus that I’m passionate about my career.” 

Both students were active STEM students and regularly took advantage of opportunities through the STEM Tech-Innovation Center. Douglas said he is proof that hard work and participation pays off.

“It’s important that students adapt to change and step out of their comfort zones. That helped me get to where I am today,” Douglas said when offering advice to current students. 

The HBCU new hires are part of ADEPT, a two-year program geared toward promoting business and leadership skills and exposing new hires to diverse opportunities at American.

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