Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

For Hispanic Heritage month we’ve heard incredible stories from SkyWest people about their diverse journeys to aviation and how their culture has influenced their careers. As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a close, we have several more stories to share:

James B. Sr. and James B. – Cross Utilized Supervisors, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 

For the Benitez family, celebrating their culture is an everyday occasion and they’re very proud to be a part of the growing Mexican American community in Scottsbluff, Nebraska (BFF). They’re also very proud to be a part of the SkyWest team as “SkyWest’s BFF pioneers.”

“My family is very tight knit, and we can celebrate anything,” said James Jr. “I think because we’re the only Benitez family in the area, my mom and sister are insistent in getting our family together as much as possible. In the Mexican culture, family is everything. Family pushes us to do better. They’re who supports most and it’s who you learn all the important lessons from. Family is everything to us and I love that part of my Mexican culture!”

James’s dad, James Sr., had recently retired from 30 years of service at the post office when he heard about a new airline that would be flying at his local airport. He jumped at a chance for another career and was among the first SkyWest employees in BFF. James Sr. loved his job so much that he convinced his son to join the team only five months later.

“It’s fun to work with my dad,” said James Jr. “Before SkyWest I was a social worker and part-time substitute teacher at my local schools. I wasn’t the happiest and I jumped to apply when my dad called me. We’ve both been here for over five years and we both love our team. I’m also grateful for the opportunities to travel with my dad and attend the NFL, MLB, and college games that we enjoy.”

Captain Jesse B., First Officer Julieta V., Flight Attendant Yessenia A., and Flight Attendant Carla N.

Recently, a Houston-based all-Hispanic crew operated a local trip together for the first time. This experience provided them with an opportunity to reflect on their unique journeys within aviation and the similarities their personal stories share. Here is what a few of them had to share:

Captain Jesse B. – El Salvador

For Captain Jesse B., flying with an all-Hispanic crew was something he didn’t think too much about when he began his aviation career. However, the recent experience he had is one he will never forget.

“I was surprised but excited,” Captain B. said. “It was great to see all of us together and it felt rewarding to be a part of a community who supports each other when we see each other doing well, it makes me proud! Houston may seem small, but we are filled with people of rich cultures and I’m happy to be a part of that.”

Captain B. was also glad to see a crewmember he had flown with before and who was from his home country.

“I’ve flown with Yessenia before and I am always excited because we are both from El Salvador,” said Captain B. “When we first met I was surprised that I knew exactly which town she was from and that I’ve visited it before. I like knowing that even though we’re almost 2,000 miles away from El Salvador that because of our jobs we can still connect and share our stories.”

First Officer Julieta V. – Colombia

“It was a lot of fun to work with this crew and the only thing that made me sad was the fact that it was a local trip,” said Julieta. “It excited me to see so many different countries represented in our crew. That was my favorite part, seeing our different cultures represented and showing others that it’s possible to be a Latino, or Hispanic or whatever, and succeed in your job.”

Becoming a pilot involved a lot of hard work and Julieta credits the lessons she was taught as kid growing up in Colombia. For Julieta, her culture strengthened her to stop at nothing until she had accomplished her dreams of being a pilot.

Flight Attendant Yessenia A.– El Salvador

“The world of aviation is what united us,” said Yessenia. “After our introductions and seeing how we work together, I was filled with so much pride to be on this trip. I loved seeing the diversity within SkyWest come together and it was a full circle moment for me.”

Yessenia began her SkyWest career over 12 years ago and says it’s a “lifelong dream come true.” Growing up in a small town in El Salvador, she would recreate what she thought was happening on the handful of flights that flew over her town. Yessenia wanted to travel the world as a flight attendant. She knew that with hard work and sacrifice her dream would one day come true.

For Yessenia, SkyWest is exactly what she was looking for. She loves her job and enjoys meeting the diverse crewmembers she interacts with. She uses her travel privileges to visit El Salvador and takes her son to show him where she was raised. Her parents are also very proud of her career and still support her dreams of traveling the world.

“My parents sacrificed a lot for us to move to the U.S.,” said Yessenia. “Because of them I got my opportunity to follow my dream. I drove six hours to attend my SkyWest interview, and I got a speeding ticket because I didn’t want to miss my chance. It was stressful and fun, but I got the job!”

Cancer Awareness: Hope and Support

Whether you are a survivor, advocate, community organizer or co-survivor, cancer affects all of us. Throughout October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month we will be sharing the stories of SkyWest people and their battles against cancer in its various forms.

Flight Attendant Jaime R. and Captain Ricky M. have both faced the challenge of a cancer diagnosis and are still fighting the ongoing battles of treatment and recovery. Their unique journeys serve as powerful examples of how resilience and unwavering determination have enabled them to conquer adversities.

Jaime R. – DEN Flight Attendant

After years of preventive care, regular exams at home and with her doctor, and no familial history of cancer, Jaime was surprised when she was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) earlier this year. At age 46 she began her new life of tests, never ending appointments, and what seemed like endless treatments.

“I always thought because I was doing the right things, I don’t smoke, I eat clean, only glassware for drinks, regular exercise, and natural deodorant, that I would prevent cancer,” she said. “I did several at-home checks and with my doctor and felt confident of being cancer free. The only way that the cancer was detected was through a mammogram, a free test that can be done for anyone. Something that I found too uncomfortable and had put off.”

After a pathology report determined that Jaime had four tumors, the largest at 15mm, and large amounts of Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), her doctors gave her the options to begin her battle against cancer. She underwent a seven-hour bi-lateral double mastectomy with a direct implant reconstruction. Her weekly chemo sessions begin this weekend for the aggressive cancer, and an additional year of infusion treatments to come.

“I found out that I’ve had this cancer inside of me for a long time,” she said. “I still have a small amount DCIS they couldn’t get, and I’m hopeful the chemo gets it.”

For Jaime, prioritizing herself and well-being has become more important since her diagnosis.

“Many of us think we’re too busy and that our work schedules, children, and homes are a priority over our own,” she said. “We barely make time for ourselves, and our self-care is in the back seat. I was no different. Between three kids and two jobs, I neglected myself. Do not wait on self-care, it matters.”

For anyone with questions about breast cancer, Jaime offers this advice, “Get a mammogram by 35 for a good baseline. A FREE yearly screening is all it took and could have made all the difference for me. You matter, your life matters. Make yourself a priority!”

Captain Ricky M. – LAX ERJ Captain

For Captain Ricky M., the month of October is more than his battle with cancer but a great time to reflect on what others are going through.

 “This month makes me appreciate all the great things I’ve experienced in my life and the dark times I survived.,” he said.

As a kid, Captain M. had always wanted to be a pilot. When he was 18 years old, he signed up at his nearest flight school and worked hard to become an airline pilot. In 2003 he was diagnosed with cancer and underwent multiple surgeries, treatments, and reconstruction surgeries. He started chemo the next year, and only two months later joined the SkyWest team.

“I’ve learned the greatest lessons since my diagnosis,” said Captain M. “I’m living my dream, and nothing can stop that. No one can tell me that I can’t do what I love, which is flying airplanes for the best company. I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years, and I’ve still got a long way to go! Having cancer didn’t stop my dream and I don’t see it stopping me anytime soon.”

Captain M. has since flown the EMB, CRJ, and E175. He’s held several positions throughout his almost 20 years at SkyWest as a Captain on various aircraft and a line check airman. He’s also seen a lot of support from coworkers throughout his battle, including those who have supported him through the SkyWest’s internal employee programs.

His advice for those battling cancer: “People will be hesitant to tell you the truth about cancer, ask them to be brutally honest. Having cancer is the scariest thing that you’ll go through, please hold tight to your loved ones, and rely on the systems of support that you have. Finally, do not watch crime movies or dark TV shows, the best medicine is slapstick comedy and cartoons, trust me.”

Screening tests can also help find cancer early, significantly increasing the survival rate of those diagnosed with cancer. Ensure you and your loved ones are having regular screenings. One excellent option is to use United Healthcare’s preventive care checklist tool to see what exams you might expect at your next checkup.

SkyWest supports the fight against cancer and knowing you’re not alone is an important way we can support each other.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Sharing our Culture

As we continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we recognize the variety of backgrounds and cultures that make up the SkyWest team. Diana G., mechanic – IAH and Marisol C., AO training instructor shared their thoughts on the importance of this month and how their culture has influenced their careers. 

What brought you to SkyWest? 

Diana: I attended a recruitment event in Palm Springs (PSP) and was hired as a flight attendant. As a first-generation Mexican American, the world of aviation seemed so foreign to me, but I was somehow always drawn to it. As a flight attendant, I worked alongside crewmembers, gate agents, ramp agents, caterers, and cleaners. I felt very privileged to work with such a hard-working group of people and yet, it was always the aircraft maintenance technicians that captivated my attention the most.

My background as an automotive technician allowed me to work well with my hands and becoming an aircraft mechanic seemed like an obvious choice. I took advantage of SkyWest’s Professional Leave Program (PRO), and I went back to school to receive my Aircraft and Powerplant licenses. This month marks eight months as a certified aircraft mechanic for SkyWest.

Marisol: I was working for an engineering company when my father was diagnosed with cancer. After a family meeting about his diagnosis, and how we could best support our parents, my family and I decided that I would transition to a part-time position to assist in caring for my father. My search for a career with this type of flexibility lead me to SkyWest. I was hired as a part-time Cross Utilized agent in Harlingen, Texas (HRL).

While my father followed his treatment plan to beat cancer, I followed a new career path within aviation. I have held several roles in my time here and each one has connected me with amazing individuals. Their wisdom and allyship has supported me throughout my career and as I train new agents on their journey with SkyWest. To everyone who reads this, you can make your aviation dreams come true, “Echale ganas (give it all you got)!”  

Why is it important to recognize Hispanic Heritage month?

Diana: I am a very proud to be Mexican American, and I take pride in my culture. The rich history, the incredible music, the tasty and flavorful food, all of which makes me so grateful for my heritage. Growing up with Mexican parents who did not speak English, and immigrating to United States against all odds, they were able to teach my siblings and I the power of perseverance and hard work. To this day they are strong, independent entrepreneurs, yet always put family first. Together, we love celebrating the roots of our family and origin, especially during Hispanic Heritage Month!

Marisol: Opportunities to celebrate or embrace culture will always lead to meaningful connections! More importantly, it promotes respect, enhances communication, creates an opportunity to meet new people, and can create a safe environment for all races. As a Mexican American, I live in two worlds. It is not something I thought about until I joined the workforce. Especially when I’m speaking to colleagues or customers, and I transition between both worlds by speaking Spanish and English, it fills my heart. Everything reflects me as an individual. It reflects my family name. It reflects my community. No matter the challenge I repeat my mantra, “Echale ganas!”

How has your culture influenced your career?

Diana: Being a Mexican American woman I know I’m a minority, but that only pushes me to do better and work harder than most. Because of my cultural values, I’ve learned to do this and not complain about what’s necessary for my success. I know that facing these challenges have shaped me since I was young. This perseverance has allowed me to have a high motivation and drive to succeed in achieving my dreams. I dedicate myself to my career fully and proudly, thanks to what I’ve overcome as a Mexican American woman. 

Marisol: It’s been nothing but uplifted and embraced. Because of the diversity in my community and the work groups that surrounds me, my career at SkyWest has seen nothing but enrichment and support.

During my time with SkyWest, I’ve felt that my voice has always been heard and that my heritage and journey have never been stereotyped. The culture at SkyWest creates an environment that allows our voices and ideals to be heard, and embraces our cultural differences. My career has been enriched by SkyWest’s need to recognize us all individually, and they’ve done this by inviting those of different cultures to share their background and experiences in various ways, sharing their story with all of SkyWest.

SkyWest also offers resources for those that may not have been exposed to other cultures through the Diversity & Inclusion page on SkyWest Online. It offers videos to reinvent thoughts or assumptions someone may have. I applaud the pledge SkyWest has made to not allow ignorance to prevent our growth as a company.

How do you celebrate this month? 

Diana: This year I was married on Mexican Independence Day, Sept. 16, and was able to celebrate with my guests. Most of them were non-Hispanic and I wanted to share as much of my culture as I could with them. We stopped at nothing to highlight my culture and make new family feel most welcomed! We had a variety of Hispanic foods, colorful decorations with flowers, and classical Latin tunes including Cumbia, Merengue, Salsa, and Tango. An important part of my culture is dancing, and it’s one of the most important traditions in my family. It felt great to share that with everyone! 

Thank you, Diana and Marisol, for sharing your stories with us and helping us understand the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month. We are fortunate for the influence and difference you have made on our SkyWest team!

SkyWest Culture: Casting a Line for Connections

It all started back in 2015 when a group of SkyWest mechanics in Colorado Springs decided to put their passion and skills for fishing to the test through a friendly competition. The idea took off, and the first fishing tournament resulted in an unforgettable event filled with laughter, fishing tales, and the thrill of the catch. After just one year they were hooked, and that initial group vowed to make it an annual affair. Now, nine years later, it has now evolved to include employees from other SkyWest teams, their families, and continues to provide opportunities for camaraderie, connection, and giving back.

“We not only compete for the biggest catch but also compete in acts of kindness and generosity, giving back to our community and supporting charitable causes,” said Bruce Chang, SkyWest maintenance training instructor.

Bruce was one of the first to put the idea of a fishing tournament together. He says its uniqueness lies not only in the friendship it fosters among the SkyWest employees but also in the culture of giving that surrounds the event.

To participate, individuals from any SkyWest team or location pay an entrance fee with proceeds going towards prizes or being donated to organizations like Trout Unlimited. Prizes have also been donated by colleagues and fishing companies. These have included fishing gear and accessories, along with SkyWest apparel and merchandise, with the goal of being able to provide a prize to every child who participates in the tournament. This approach has helped foster a sense of belonging and strengthen connections within the SkyWest team.

“Beyond the thrill of the competition, our fishing tournaments are opportunities for families and friends to create memories and strengthen the bonds that keep us connected,” said Bruce.

The fishing tournaments have also acted as a catalyst for forming new friendships and acquaintances within the company. Newcomers are always welcome, and their participation enriches the event’s atmosphere and dynamics as employees from different departments can connect over their shared hobby.

“For nine years running, our fishing tournaments have been a testament to our commitment to fostering unity within SkyWest,” said Bruce. “As we look to the future, we hope to expand and share this wonderful tradition with even more participants.”

More than just a competition, the tournament promotes teamwork, belonging, and generosity. Each year, participants eagerly await the tournament, ready to cast their lines, create new stories, and strengthen the bonds of friendship and family.

Ready to join a company with great culture? Go to www.skywest.com/careers to get started on an application today!

SkyWest representatives receive Navy Reserve award

SkyWest Recognized as an Outstanding Navy Reserve Employer

SkyWest representatives receive Navy Reserve award

SkyWest was recently recognized by the U.S. Navy as one of America’s outstanding Navy Reserve employers. We were nominated for the award by a current SkyWest employee for the support we provide to Veterans and reservists.

“We honor and recognize the many employers who support our Citizen Sailors, who are often called upon to leave their families and civilian jobs on short notice,” said Vice Adm. John B. Mustin, Chief of Navy Reserve and Commander, Navy Reserve Force.

SkyWest Chief Pilot Makenzie Meek and Assistant Chief Pilot Jorge Yepiz attended the Navy Employer Recognition Event in San Diego and accepted the award on behalf of SkyWest.

SkyWest is home to nearly 1,500 men and women who have or are still serving in the U.S. armed forces. We are proud of their service and look forward to seeing even more bring their incredible skills to our team in the future. SkyWest provides military pilots who have a DD214 form a $7,500 bonus, and we offer a Rotor Transition Program (RTP) for military rotor pilots to enter the commercial aviation industry. Through this program, pilots begin accruing company seniority, receive an enhanced introduction to SkyWest, have access to mentors and interview prep, and are eligible for up to $25,000 in bonuses and tuition reimbursement.

Navy Reserve Employer Award group shot.

Happy Father’s Day

Lexi K. – CRJ First Officer (SLC)

“My dad has been my inspiration to fly since I was a little girl. My brother and I both chose to become pilots because of him, and we were lucky enough to be trained by him and fly together here at SkyWest.

“Growing up with my dad’s flight privileges is the reason I enjoyed traveling, but I didn’t know that I wanted to become a pilot. I even attended college to study another major and it wasn’t until I almost completed my bachelor’s degree that I finally took a discovery flight and realized that I needed to be in the skies. Joining SkyWest and being able to train with my family and eventually work in the flight deck with my dad has been really cool. Flying with my dad gets me really excited for my future in aviation and inspires me to do as much as I can with my career.”

Gabbie S. – Flight Attendant (ORD)

“Happy Father’s Day to the most impeccable person I know, my dad Cllr. S. He’s done and continues to do so much for my siblings and I, and we’ll never be able to fully share with the world his greatness.

“My dad put his law career on hold to move us out of Liberia, a war-torn country at the time, to America so that we could have a better life. I will forever cherish the sacrifices he made for my family. His determination to create a better life for us, and for those around him is reflected in the current work he does as a one of Liberia’s top lawyers. My dad inspires me to do better, and to become the best person that I can be. He’s taught me to help and care for the ones I love.

“Dad, I love you past the stars and back, you will always and forever be my superhero. I love you papa.”

Happy Father’s Day to all our SkyWest dads and to the fathers who helped inspire us to follow our passion to be part of the aviation industry!

Celebrating Pride Month

Today marks the start of Pride Month! Throughout June we’ll be sharing more from SkyWest people about what Pride Month means to them as we continue to celebrate the diversity of our team!

Ginny E. – MX Parts, DFW

Ginny, Dallas-based lead parts clerk, says she is happy SkyWest recognizes the importance of unity and equality within the LGBTQ+ community.

“This month is a great reminder of the unity that was forged, and hard-won battles fought to secure equal rights,” said Ginny. “Even through tough times, we create a community that holds strong and supports each other.”

Serving as the president of the gay/straight alliance during her college years, Ginny witnessed firsthand how crucial it was for individuals to advocate for inclusion and acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community.

“I think all of us can remember a time that there was pushback to our beliefs,” said Ginny. “This month reminds me of the hard work that people did to be the voices in our community. I’m married to my wife of four years, and I never would’ve dreamed of being able to do that before.”

In September, Ginny will celebrate four years with SkyWest and calls her time here “nothing short of exceptional.” At DFW, Ginny has always felt comfortable being her authentic self and discussing her life experiences, including her family and personal journey. She is grateful to have found a supportive and inclusive culture with the SkyWest family.

“Amidst the noise surrounding LGBTQ+ issues, let’s engage in meaningful conversations, setting aside stereotypes. By listening and learning from each other, we can make a difference.” 

Rachel F. – Flight Attendant, SLC

Flight Attendant Rachel has been a part of the SkyWest team for almost six years. She says that as a bisexual woman and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, she knows the importance of helping others feel included and safe.

“For me, this represents what the SkyWest culture is about, which is promoting safety and comfortability for myself and my colleagues,” said Rachel. “Creating a safe workplace environment is an important part of what makes this month so important, and I’m glad that SkyWest cultivates this.”

Ky J. – Flight Attendant, MSP

MSP-based Flight Attendant Ky says that an important requirement in his career was finding a company that accepts him. He started his SkyWest journey over two years ago and says, “this is the company to be accepted into.”

“I’ve always wanted to be part of a company where people were accepting,” said Ky. “I’m proud to be bisexual and I know that I’m valid. That’s what this month is about, acknowledging your truth and sharing it with others. I want everyone to know that this is who I am and it isn’t confusing — I’m just me.”

Ky’s unwavering self-assurance and authenticity are a testament to his journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. He even credits meeting his now-husband to a serendipitous encounter on a layover.

“We were married this past December,” said Ky. “I am grateful that I have both the man and the career of my dreams because of SkyWest.”

AAPI: A Journey Through Culture

SkyWest is home to incredible people. As we wrap Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’ve enjoyed sharing the stories of our team members. This includes people like Tala Maluia-Zepeda, a SkyWest flight attendant in San Diego, California.

For Tautalafua Maluia – Zepeda, or Tala as everyone calls her, this month is more than just a celebration for her. It’s a chance to showcase her pride for her people’s contributions to society, a connection of her identity with her ancestors, and a time of remembrance of the culture and heritage that is deeply rooted into her life and family.

 “It’s important that we recognize this month for what it is,” said Tala. “Remembering our roots and the path that our ancestors traveled. We are people of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia who have traveled thousands of miles from home, to work and secure a better life for our families. Our people are strong because we continue to embrace our culture while adapting to changes and becoming acclimated to new surroundings. Knowing this helps me pave a way through the many obstacles in my journey, and my life.”

Born and raised in American Samoa, a South Pacific Island with a population of 25,000 people in the 1970s, Tala grew up surrounded by her culture and a tight-nit family.

“Samoans are very proud of their culture and family traditions because we are taught from a very young age to always put God first, ‘Samoa muamua le Atua,’” she said. “Our ancestors instilled in us the importance of starting and ending your day with prayer, respecting your elders, saying excuse me ‘tulou,’ lowering your head every time you walk past others while they are engaged in a conversation, and saying please ‘fa’amolemole’ and thank you ‘fa’afetai’ when you ask and receive something.”  

Tala was raised to speak Samoan for most of her childhood but quickly learned English from her cousins who visited from the United States. This helped her as she attended elementary school, high school, and then gained acceptance into the only community college in American Samoa at the time. She credits her parents and her upbringing in her culture as things that led to the opportunities she has today.

“I was working a job as a credit analyst in Hawaii when I joined my sister at the airport for Wackenhut Security monitoring and checking carry-on bags for passengers boarding flights,” said Tala. “This was my first taste of a career in the industry and I quickly gained the skills to keep up in the ever-changing world of aviation customer service.”

She later moved to San Diego, California in the late 80s and began work for Rohr Industries, one of the biggest aerospace manufacturing companies.

“I worked another job during my time with Rohr Industries, but this is where I truly developed a love for aviation and for the details that go into manufacturing an aircraft,” said Tala. “I worked in various departments where I was involved in the research and development of the 787 aircraft, coordinated movement of raw materials, and where I provided support to quality control, warehouse management and aftermarket services.”

Tala later joined the Department of Defense as a supply systems analyst contractor at the U.S. Naval Base 32nd San Diego, California. She was offered an overseas position to assist in the startup of DDKS (Defense Distribution Depot Kuwait, Southwest Asia). This is where she was able to overcome her fear of flying as she was now traveling thousands of miles away from home to work. She lived and worked in Kuwait for three years before returning home to the United States.

“As soon as I got home, I started looking for airline jobs,” said Tala. “I knew that I needed to be in aviation, and after hours of interviewing and research, I knew that I was meant to be with SkyWest.”

Tala calls her time at SkyWest “amazing and adventurous.” She has enjoyed the travel privileges that have given her the opportunity to visit different places and, most importantly, re-connect with her family for important events.

“I am always proud to see Pacific Islanders throughout the system,” said Tala. “The first thing I ask them is, are you a pacific islander? And what island are you from? I am fluent in the Samoan language so l enjoy conversating with them if they speak the language too. It always makes me happy to connect with the many different faces of the islands.”

AAPI: The Strengths of My Heritage and Culture

In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we asked several SkyWest team members to share their unique stories and tell us why this month is so important to them.

Meleasi Cornell – Station General Manager, EKO

For Meleasi Cornell, this month allows Pacific Islanders like herself to share more about her heritage, successes, experiences, and her family’s values. She hopes that this month can be inspiring for others as they learn more from the principles that she was taught growing up and how she’s been able to lead her life.

“My career in aviation was heavily influenced by my culture,” said Meleasi. “This stems from years of core values being instilled to me by my elders, family, and my community. Being raised in the Polynesian culture has taught me to be confident in my choices, and to always carry pride for where I came from and for those who’ve helped me along the way.”

Meleasi joined SkyWest in 2002 as a part of the customer service team in Elko, Nevada (EKO). She credits her successful work history to her team members around her and for the dependability that they represent for the airport and SkyWest.

“I was raised to always view an opportunity with different perspectives,” said Meleasi. “We’re taught from a very young age to serve others, and to do it with a cheerful heart. I’m very blessed, especially due to the opportunities that were presented in my career, to represent that and to share those teachings with my colleagues. Just as my family at home is very important to me, I’ve invited my work family into my heart as well. As a station general manager, I strive to emulate those values in the workplace by creating a familiar sense of comfort through equality, collaboration, respect, and compassion.”

Ella Ika – IF, SLC

Seven years ago, Ella Ika began her SkyWest journey as a flight attendant and credits her family members for inspiring her to take to the skies.

“My aunt and cousin are both flight attendants,” said Ella. “I remember hearing all their travel stories and hoping that one day I could also experience them. I was 21 years old and had a need for exploring and seeing new places. I applied, got the job, and haven’t looked back.”

During this month, Ella says that she reflects on how important it is to feel represented and the significance this has on her cultural identity as a Pacific Islander. It is a culture rich of history, traditions, and familial principles unique to the islands.

“For most of my life I navigated being a minority or being labeled as lesser because of this title,” said Ella. “I would get questions like, ‘What are you?’ or ‘What is a Polynesian?’ and I’m really glad that now we’re able to mainstream the answers to these questions throughout this month. I am so grateful to share more about myself, and to hear about others experiences as Asian American or Pacific Islanders. Each of these groups are unique, important, and beautiful in their own right.”

Ella says this month is all about shining a light on the many ethnicities and stories within the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. She’s also grateful for her travel privileges and the opportunity that her and her family have to explore the world and learn more about other cultures.

Angela Nguyen – IF, ORD

Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee to first generation immigrants from Vietnam and Cambodia, Angela Nguyen knows how important heritage is.

“My dad is Vietnamese, and my mom is Cambodian,” said Angela. “Like most people with immigrant parents, my parents came to the United States with nothing, but were able to build a great life for our family. My dad didn’t want us to struggle adjusting to American culture, so our parents didn’t give my brothers and I Vietnamese or Cambodian names.”

“I have always admired my parents and the rest of my family for moving to a new country and learning a new language as quickly as they did,” said Angela. “I remember being embarrassed when I was younger that I was so different because I grew up in a community that was very different from me, culturally and ethnically. But as I grew older, I learned more about my family history and culture, and I started to gain more pride in my background. I understood why my parents made the decisions that they made in raising our family.”

After graduating from the University of Memphis, Angela decided that she needed to get out of her comfort zone and applied to become a flight attendant. Inspired by her parents’ work ethic, she graduated from InFlight training and pushed herself to overcome her fears of public speaking and making new friends.

“It became one of the best decisions I’ve made,” said Angela. “This job has pushed me to be a better version of myself and to have courage. I am not the quiet, shy girl I once was and this career is the reason I can travel solo in different countries. I can’t imagine doing anything like this before SkyWest.”

For Angela, this month is all about learning. She loves using her flight privileges to travel and to learn new cultures, as well as sharing her own stories from her heritage with others.