Mr. David Hernandez quickly glances around the room before his presentation, pacing back and forth. Room A214 appears to be shrinking as more and more Jesuit students crowd the limited space, hoping to gain key information from Embry-Riddle’s Assistant Director of Admissions. Mr. Hernandez clears his throat, and the cameras start rolling. He begins the meeting by asking the class a simple question, “How many of you here have heard of Embry-Riddle?” Two, three, four, five, maybe six, hands shoot up; the rest of the class sits back silently. “Ok, well, for those who are not familiar, Embry-Riddle is THE leader in aviation and aerospace education…and Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, the CIA, and the FBI actively recruit graduates from Embry-Riddle.” The bold statement grabbed the attention of not only myself but also the other students situated throughout the room.

Name: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU)

Location: Prescott, Arizona

Enrolled: 1,984 (77% male and 23% female)

Notable Recommendation: Time Magazine refers to ERAU as the “Harvard of the Skies.”

As the son of two former Naval Petty Officers who received their Bachelors of Science degrees from Embry-Riddle in Corpus, Christi, Texas, I walked into Mr. Hernandez’s speech thinking that the university existed solely for the purpose of educating members of the military. However, I soon learned from Mr. Hernandez that providing the military with well-educated graduates was only a fraction of the school’s capabilities. According to Mr. Hernandez, “Embry-Riddle is known for three things: engineering, flight, and our intelligence studies,” and with these three pillars, students are able to find countless opportunities upon graduation.

One example of such opportunities lies in the fact that Embry-Riddle is the largest single supplier of college graduates to Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company. The mere fact that Boeing selects Embry-Riddle students over well-known colleges reflects the school’s unique, intellectual environment.   Statistically, Embry-Riddle presents very impressive numbers: 1 of 4 commercial pilots is trained by Embry-Riddle, 1 of 6 aerospace engineers in the industry is an Embry-Riddle graduate, and Embry-Riddle’s employment rate within a year of graduation is an astonishing 96% (meaning either graduates are working in their career field or are working towards their masters). Mr. Hernandez explains, that “compared to the national employment rate (college graduates) in the U.S. which is 30%…Embry-Riddle has earned Time Magazine’s title, ‘Harvard of the Skies’” in every aspect.

When I asked Jesuit students what their motivation was for attending Mr. Hernandez’s lecture, most replied similarly to senior Matthew Favre, “I was looking forward to learning about engineering because it interests me and finding out about the opportunities Embry-Riddle provides to its students.” In addition to outstanding academics, Embry-Riddle allows its undergraduate students to participate in numerous hands-on activities, learning by trying the concepts in practice. From internships to state-of-the-art labs, students experience common working environments and are allowed to use the state of the art technology the school offers immediately upon their enrollment, technology that at larger schools is designated only for their graduate programs.

Ultimately, students appreciated getting a full overview and description of the college and were left with a feeling of excitement. When asked what he enjoyed most about the presentation, junior Abbas Hussain said, “Definitely the small school environment. Rather than leaving you helpless in a classroom with 200 people, Embry-Riddle champions a remarkably small student to teacher ratio and helps look after each of their students to ensure they are getting the quality of education they deserve.”

Whether applicants choose Aerospace Engineering or Cyber Intelligence as their major, Mr. Hernandez emphasized the fact that upon graduating from Embry-Riddle, students will have jobs waiting for them. Ending his talk, Mr. Hernandez said, “Airline pilots make as much as doctors and lawyers, but they have a much better view out of their office window at 35,000 feet in the air.” So, if you are looking to attend a top-tier university that prioritizes courses in mathematics or science, apply to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, deemed “Harvard of the Skies.”