SkyWest is proud to have a diverse team with many cultures and backgrounds represented throughout our workforce. This month we celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month and heard from many of our employees about what their heritage means to them and how it plays a role at SkyWest. Here’s what they had to say:
Paola Johnson — Flight Attendant, SLC
I was born in Santiago, Chile, and came to the United States when I was 10 years old. I’ll never forget that night and the bittersweet goodbyes. On that 10-hour flight, my love for aviation began thanks to an amazing flight attendant who took me under her wing. Though she was working first class, she constantly checked up on me and spoiled me with inflight goodies (pillow, blanket, snacks, and coloring books). It was that moment when I said to myself, “I want to be just like her.” The kindness she showed me really impacted me and inspired me to become a flight attendant just like her.
Years later, one of my friends told me about a SkyWest hiring event that was being held in Salt Lake City the following day. I thought the idea of possibly interviewing the very next day was crazy, but I took my chances, and five years later, here I am!
After my first year at SkyWest, I jumped at the opportunity to join the InFlight recruitment team. I love going to recruitment events and seeing not only the excitement that so many applicants have, but giving them the same opportunities that I was given. I’ll never forget when I asked an applicant a question and he responded by saying that it was inspiring and motivating for him to see a Latina flight attendant conducting his interview. It made him proud and happy to see diversity here at SkyWest.
In July, I celebrated my five-year work anniversary at SkyWest and my experiences have been nothing but amazing. I’m so grateful for the many friendships that I’ve built here and the places I’ve been able to see and explore. I’m very grateful for all the opportunities SkyWest has provided for me and my family!
Eventually, my family went back to Chile, but they left me with many valuable lessons that I still cherish to this day: the value of hard work, having courage and believing in yourself – even if you have to start over. As a mom, I hope that I’m teaching my daughters that same work ethic and showing them that anything is possible, no matter where they come from.
Nayomie Burns — Flight Attendant, DFW
I have always wanted to be a flight attendant. I grew up an Army brat (child), and lived in some pretty diverse places. Both of my parents were born and raised in Puerto Rico and married very young. My mom always instilled in us to get an education and to do better than they did. So, although my desire was to become a flight attendant after high school, I obeyed and went to college.
I truly enjoyed my time as a college student and made such great friends. But again, I was in rural Louisiana at the time and people did not know that Puerto Ricans could have such dark skin. I always had to explain myself to others, but that is one thing that I’ve never had to do at SkyWest.
When I joined the SkyWest family as a flight attendant, I said to myself, “I am done. I am in my forever career.” I’m so glad I came here and didn’t go elsewhere. I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many great people and have met more Latinx pilots than I can count. I have been inspired by them and countless others to try my hand on the other side of the door.
I started taking flight lessons a couple of years ago and finally received my PPL this past June – right as I transferred to Dallas (DFW). During this time, I have met so many Latinx pilots and plan to join them one day as an Afro-Latina, which I am proud to be. I really appreciate the opportunities that SkyWest affords me and how they embrace and encourage individuality while still being part of a larger community.
Rene Azahar — CRJ Captain, FAT
SkyWest CRJ Captain Rene Azahar credits his father for sparking his passion for aviation and for helping him get to where he is today.
“Growing up, my dad would take me over to Los Angeles International Airport to watch the planes take off and land. It was a thrill! When we weren’t at the airport, you could find us flying model airplanes at the park.”
A few years later, the family moved to Santa Maria, California, right behind the airport. From his backyard, Captain Azahar could see the SkyWest planes take off and land. It was during this time that Captain Azahar made it his goal to be a commercial airline pilot for SkyWest one day.
With strong family support and his dad telling him to never give up on his dream, Captain Azahar fulfilled that promise in 2017 when he was hired at SkyWest.
Click here to read more about Captain Azahar’s inspiring path to becoming a commercial airline pilot.
JJ Jimenez Lopez — Flight Attendant, DFW
For SkyWest Flight Attendant JJ Jimenez Lopez, working in the aviation industry wasn’t something that had ever crossed his mind growing up. That all changed when a friend and fellow SkyWest Flight Attendant Vanna Hoang, encouraged him to look into it.
“Vanna introduced me to SkyWest and the aviation industry, and the next minute I’m covering one of her trips,” said JJ. “How cool is that! Every time I see Vanna I make sure to thank her because SkyWest has changed my life.”
For JJ, who recently celebrated his five-year work anniversary this summer, it all wouldn’t have been possible without the help of his parents who made a number of sacrifices so that he could have a better life.
“I’m proud of my heritage. It means everything to me,” said the Dallas-based flight attendant. “My parents taught me early on about the importance of hard work, dedication, and being proud of where I come from and who I am. My parents came from nothing and gave my siblings and me a better life. Their sacrifice and love is something that I’ll never forget.”
Click here to read more about JJ’s path to becoming a flight attendant.