Ryan Cooney

Ryan has always been interested in aviation but hadn’t considered it as a career until after his first year in college. He started out studying government and international politics elsewhere, took a year off, and then found Vermont Tech. “I realized I wanted to make a change, and being a pilot sounded like a really great way to spend a career.”  

Ryan chose Vermont Tech because it was “close to home, affordable, and provided a quality education. The high placement of graduates within my field of study was also a huge reason behind coming here.”  

He found the transition from one college to another easier than he imagined. “It showed me how I could make decisions that altered what I’d thought I’d wanted to with life. It was a real leap of faith. I’m happy with the change I made and wouldn’t change it at all.”  

Of his classes, Ryan says they are “fantastic at preparing you for almost any career in aviation. The faculty are excellent. Craig Popkess, in particular, has some great experiences he shares with students. His classes are some of my favorites as he always presents the material in fun and engaging ways.”  

Now readying to graduate, with the hope of flying cargo planes with UPS or FedEx one day, Ryan found the faculty here “very supportive. Bonnie Lord in the library took me on as a work-study student on day one. Robin Guillian, program director, helped me to get an internship with the airport operations team at Burlington International Airport, and helped me get hired on as a tutor. Jason Enser, dean of students, even recommended that I apply to be the student trustee on the VSCS Board of Trustees — a position I was very happy to apply for and be accepted to.”  

Ryan’s advice to incoming students: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help; the pilot group is tightknit. And try to get the internship with airport ops — “it’s fun and an exciting opportunity.” 

He adds: “If you’re on the fence about whether aviation is for you or not, come and take a flight with a student. Once you get in the plane, I guarantee you’ll want to do what we do every day.”