From Dave Robbins, coordinator for RBA and aviation management programs
Mark Congco-Antoine, a 2015 graduate of the WVU Tech Regents Bachelor of Arts program,
has leveraged his degree to land a pilot position with Southwest Airlines.
Flying has always been a passion for Mark. A native of Brooklyn, New York and current resident of Houston, Texas, he earned his private pilot license at the age of 17 – the Federal Aviation Administration’s minimum age. Mark continued flight training and, on his 21st birthday, he was in an initial training class at Piedmont Airlines, flying a Dash 8 turboprop airplane. From there, Mark moved into business jets, earning his Cessna Citation type rating in 2012.
As is the case with many college students, life interrupted Mark’s college education.
“I spent a lot of time pursuing my degree online while at Piedmont Airlines, but due to the demanding schedule, I was unable to complete it as fast as I would have hoped. Also, the school I was attending closed down. I transferred to WVU Tech and saw a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
“As all pilots know, a bachelor’s degree is practically mandatory in order to be considered for a pilot position at any major airline. I knew that without being able to check that box, my career would stagnate and I would never have the earning potential of a major airline pilot. I decided to go full-throttle in my pursuit of a degree, and by December 2015, I completed my RBA at WVU Tech. Less than a year after completing my RBA, I received multiple interview invites from JetBlue, Southwest and United. I interviewed at all three and ultimately decided that Southwest Airlines is where I wanted to spend the rest of my aviation career,” he said.
Mark feels it is important to give back, so in addition to his full-time flying career, he volunteers for Angel Flight. The organization helps those in need of medical care get to and from specialty hospitals for treatment. He also shares his time and talents with Pilots ’N Paws, where he transports animals from kill-shelters to non-kill shelters or new owners.