Takoma Academy Airmen Take Flight
Story by Shaun Robinson
A 2018 Takoma Academy (TA) graduate, Taylor Waters matriculated to Andrews University (Mich.), where he received a dual degree in Business and Aeronautical Science in 2021.
“When I was 7 or 8, my family traveled to Antigua, and the experience was amazing! The pilots let me sit in the cockpit and press a few buttons. Since then, I always had the desire to be a pilot,” says Waters. “During high school, I learned that Andrews had a flight school and considered that path. Before I left for college, I was hanging out with some friends near Reagan National Airport. Watching those planes land and take off really sealed the deal for me.”
Waters says that one of his flight school instructors always told him that “experience is what you get when you don’t get what you wanted.” In other words, if things don’t work out the way you want them to, you still have the experience to learn from.
“One piece of advice I would give to anyone who wants to be successful at their goals,” says Waters, “is to go through life always trying to start and end your day with prayer and making a connection with God.”
Nick Ashman always wanted to be an engineer. A member of TA’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers from 2015–2018, he was a bright student who got good grades and was sure that engineering was the path for him.
After just a few semesters at the University of Maryland, College Park, however, Ashman became disinterested in engineering and began contemplating his future. “Too much bookwork and theories and not enough hands-on activities caused me to basically give up,” he recalls.
Ashman remembers the many times he heard his mom pray that the Lord would guide his path. He remembers waking up from a dream in the middle of the night, going to his mom and asking her what she thought about him becoming a pilot. “It’s funny how the Lord works,” says Ashman, “because my mom told me that every time she flew she imagined me being the one flying the plane.”
Ashman’s career path in aviation took him to Montgomery College (Md.) and later to Andrews University where he obtained a Bachelor of Technology degree in Aviation with a concentration in Flight. For a year and a half, he worked as a flight instructor—first at Andrews, then Blue Line Aviation (N.C.), and lastly Freeway Airport (Md.).
Today, both Waters and Ashman completed their pilot’s certification and work as first officers for SkyWest Airlines.