Darin and Jesus: Dreams Taking Flight

At iMentor, we have built a community that understands our responsibility to support and uplift one another through difficult times. As the COVID-19 pandemic forces us all to re-order our lives, iMentor will continue to share stories of mentors supporting students on their unique journeys. Some stories—like this one—predate our current reality. We hope you find it an inspiring reminder of the power of relationships.

While they were still getting to know each other, Jesus made it clear to his mentor, Darin, that his dream was to become a pilot. Darin recalls: “As soon as I understood how passionately he wanted to become a pilot, my brain immediately clicked to, ‘Well, I've got a good friend who's a pilot. Let's get the two of them together.’”

As someone who’s been in the workforce for more than 35 years, Darin expressed not wanting to overwhelm Jesus with his knowledge and experience. Instead, he’s taken a measured approach of listening and sharing insights with Jesus, a little at a time.

“I literally have not had a mentor my whole career, and I know I could have been much more successful and happier in my career choices if I just had somebody that asked me some questions early on and maybe gave me some suggestions of things to consider or different pathways…I just desperately want to help alleviate that kind of a frustration with someone else, if I can.”

As he was getting a tour of the Southwest Airlines aircraft, Jesus was initially a little overwhelmed with all he would have to learn to become a pilot. “It was confusing…I’ll have to memorize what all these things mean, and what does what, and things like that,” he said. But ultimately, the experience confirmed his passion. “It was just so exciting being able to go into, basically, the workspace where you want to be.”

Jesus’s first experience flying happened on a trip down to Mexico when he was 13. “The whole experience going through check in and through security, and when you get on the plane at first, it’s kind of nerve-wracking because it was the first time I had ever gotten on, so I didn’t know what to expect. And then once I got on, it was so exciting. Just how such a huge machine can lift off and go to such a high altitude. It was like, ‘I want to do this for the rest of my life.’”

Together, Darin and Jesus are learning the next steps Jesus need to take to pursue a career in aviation. San Jose State University has a strong aviation program, and they are working on scheduling time to speak with an instructor in the program. Jesus hopes to learn what he’ll need to do to obtain a pilot’s license, and what the pipeline is like for students to eventually work for major airlines.

If Jesus continues his path of getting a bachelor’s degree in aviation from San Jose State University, not only would he be closer to fulfilling his dreams of becoming a pilot, he would also be the first in his family to graduate from college.

Had it not been for the iMentor program, Jesus admits he would still be unsure about pursuing his passion. “I think I would still be confused about whether I really wanted to do aviation or, like, what my plan was going to be later. Darin and the rest of the iMentor team have pushed me to do what I want, and not do something that other people want me to do.”

Darin recalls seeing Jesus in the aircraft as the most impactful moment he’s had as a mentor.

“It was feeling the reward of seeing him kind of blossom. This is something that, before that moment, he was dreaming about, but he couldn’t really touch it. But actually sitting in that cockpit, he could feel it. And for me, having that feeling of seeing his face light up, it’s…you can’t put a price on it. Fantastic.”

Check out the 2020 Annual Report for all the latest data about who our students and mentors are, how strong their mentoring relationships are, and how students successfully navigate the college process.