New career opportunities take flight in partnership between Western, SkyWest Airlines

Contact: Erin Flynn
Mike LaFollette and Raymond Thompson shake hands and hold a model plane.

Michael LaFollette, of SkyWest, and Dr. Raymond Thompson, dean of Western's College of Aviation, share their excitement in launching the elite partnership.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University announces wheels up on an enhanced partnership with SkyWest Airlines, the largest regional airline in the world. It will provide a runway to success for aviation students through SkyWest's Pilot Pathway Program and AMT Pathway Program.

A classroom full of students listens to a presentation.

LaFollette talks to a room full of aviation students.

"At Western, we're preparing the next generation of aviation professionals. We couldn't be more thrilled to be on board now as an elite partner with SkyWest, which will give students direct access to great jobs in the industry and provide invaluable mentorship and networking opportunities while they're also completing their degrees," says Dr. Raymond Thompson, dean of the College of Aviation.

Students who join these programs will be eligible for a variety of benefits and financial assistance from SkyWest as they work to complete their professional programs. They will also receive a guaranteed interview to join SkyWest's team of aviation professionals.

“We are excited for this elite partnership with Western Michigan University and the additional benefits it provides to their students who join our Pilot and AMT Pathway Programs,” says Kari Tate, SkyWest managing director of people. “Western Michigan University offers great training and education to their students, and we look forward to welcoming even more of them to SkyWest in the future.”

Students who join the SkyWest AMT Pathway Program qualify for elite access to SkyWest benefits, such as mentoring by experienced mechanics, enhanced company seniority, up to $4,500 in education assistance earned at credit-hour benchmarks and a job interview to become an A&P mechanic at one of SkyWest’s maintenance locations. 

Three people talk in front of a line of windows.

Broderick Bebout, right, and another aviation student talk to a representative from SkyWest about the AMT Pathway Program.

Broderick Bebout, an aviation technical operations student from Grand Rapids, Michigan, is excited for the opportunity. He's one of several students who left SkyWest's presentation with a contract to look over.

"This gives me a goal to work toward. It gives me something I truly want to pursue," he says. "It's a path for me that could lead to a career in something I love to do."

The SkyWest Pilot Pathway Program is designed to help meet the growing demand for pilots across the aviation industry. Those who join the pathway are eligible to receive tuition reimbursement of up to $15,000 from SkyWest as they achieve certain program milestones. This helps ensure the pilot training is more accessible to a wider group of students. Through the program, student pilots will also enjoy mentorship from SkyWest pilots, enhanced company seniority and a guaranteed interview to become a SkyWest first officer.

“I am incredibly excited to hear about SkyWest’s new pathway program and all it is doing to increase accessibility and representation across the industry,” says Laila Stein, a WMU senior from Greenwood, Indiana, who is double majoring in aviation flight science and aviation management and operations. “The benefits are incredible, and I can’t think of a reason I would not want to be a part of such an already awesome company! I am looking forward to seeing how this partnership will benefit current and future Broncos.”

A student talks with a SkyWest representative in front of a promotional table.

Students learn about opportunities with SkyWest in the lobby of the Aviation Education Center.

Western's enhanced partnership with SkyWest is the latest in a number of high profile industry partnerships designed to give Broncos an inside track to career success. The College of Aviation is also a partner in the AAR EAGLE Career Pathway Program, Delta Propel Pilot Career Path Program and United Aviate Pilot Development Program, among others.

Learn more about enrolling in Western's aviation programs and career opportunities available at

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