Eagle Finds Family in African American Campus Community

Aerospace Engineering junior Jaacob Pledger serves as president of the Black Student Alliance on Embry-Riddle’s Prescott Campus.

Junior Jaacob Pledger always saw himself as an engineer. He thought like an engineer, started college at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the Aerospace Engineering program. But after a while, he began to feel “bogged down between a book and a computer screen,” craving more person-to-person interaction.  

That drew him to Human Factors Psychology

“In this field, I bridge the gap between engineers and people,” said the Kansas City, Missouri, native. “I love problem-solving and I love people.” 

Today, those passions are part of his everyday experience. But Pledger isn’t just concerned with his present. He actively plans for the future — a priority that attracted him to Embry-Riddle in the first place. 

“Those who finish here are set up to have a career directly after graduating, or soon after,” he said. “This atmosphere is the best for me to achieve my dream job of owning my own business of creating tailor-made aircraft.” 

In order to reach that goal, Pledger knows he’ll need a steady stream of inspiration. But then, as someone who’s suffered through homelessness as well as asthma attacks that sent him to the hospital for weeks at a time in the past, maintaining motivation is nothing new. 

“In life, I believe there are three ways to look for inspiration: inward, outward and upward,” he said. “My parents are my greatest motivation. They’ve been there through every obstacle in life. They’ve shown me what true strength, love and perseverance are.” 

He applies these same principles in his role as president of the Black Student Alliance (BSA) on Embry-Riddle’s Prescott Campus, and looks back fondly at a Black Student Panel where he was able to listen to the experiences of students on campus as well as share his own. The experience made him feel more connected.

“In BSA, I strive each day to create a safe and family-oriented community for those on campus who feel out of place and need somewhere to be themselves,” he said. “This family is as much for us as it is for me.” 

To celebrate Black History Month, the Embry-Riddle News Team will be profiling student leaders throughout February.

Posted In: Applied Science