Maintenance Science Grad Continues Family-Fueled Journey of Success

David Hughes (left) celebrates his 2021 graduation with dad John, mom Silvia and younger brother Christian.
David Hughes (left) celebrates his 2021 graduation with dad John, mom Silvia and younger brother Christian.

Although he was born in Sicily and raised in Spain, David Hughes (’21, ’24) has never been very far from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

To begin with, his mom Silvia Hughes is Senior Director, Training & Advising, for the school’s Worldwide Campus, and she’s been with Embry-Riddle since 2006. And, after growing up in Rota, Spain, where his dad served in the Navy, David had always dreamed of living in the U.S.

“I really wanted to go to an American college,” said David. “At first, though, I was hesitant. Then, two weeks prior to my high school graduation, I decided that it was just fear holding me back. So, I applied to Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach, and I got in. Before I knew it, I was packing my bags.”

Family Support Helps Launch an Academic Journey

David and Silvia Hughes on a hike
Silvia and David Hughes take a break from Embry-Riddle by enjoying a hike in the mountains together.

That was a pivotal event for David, who was intrigued by STEM disciplines, loved working with his hands and had planned to pursue a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.

For mom Silvia, it was a proud but bittersweet moment.

“I was extremely excited and proud of him for jumping at this great opportunity,” said Silvia, herself a native of Seville, Spain. “I can’t say it was easy for either one of us as he had grown up in a tight extended family unit and, of course, a different culture altogether. He did a great job adjusting and being in Daytona allowed him to go to the job fairs organized by our Career Services Department, where he constantly saw potential opportunities for a very promising career after graduation.”

Once he left Spain and started his studies in Daytona Beach, David soon realized that mechanical engineering wasn’t for him.

“I liked the concept of it, but I wanted to do something a bit more hands-on,” he said. “I wanted to be working on or building something, rather than sitting behind a computer, designing it.”

With that in mind, David decided to check out the B.S. in Aviation Maintenance Science program that some of his newfound friends at Embry-Riddle were already part of.

Why Choose the B.S. in Aviation Maintenance Science at Embry-Riddle?

“When I went there and I saw the engines torn apart, and a lot of the workshops and labs, I just knew that's what I wanted to do,” David said. “I switched programs, stuck with it and I really enjoyed it.”

Not that it was easy. The AMS program is intensive and demanding, but David relished the challenge and also enjoyed classes that focused on the management and business aspects of aviation maintenance. Getting that kind of comprehensive and well-rounded education to complement practical experience is among the many reasons David chose to attend Embry-Riddle.

“That was obviously a big part of it,” he said. “As someone who was interested in STEM, it was great school and just a really easy choice.” The choice, along with the hard work that followed it, landed David a spot as an Aviation Maintenance Technician with Frontier Airlines in Denver, Colorado. “I was able to secure a job with several airlines before I graduated in the state where I wanted to go to,” he said. Within a year of starting with the airline in late 2021, David had been promoted to a Maintenance Controller position and now helps coordinate technical work on the night shift. “Instead of working outside in the snow, I now work in an office and I'm making double what I did my first year,” he said. “Being from Embry-Riddle and having the knowledge that it's given to me has definitely helped me out a lot.”

Why Choose Embry-Riddle for a Project Management Master’s Degree?

David Hughes, shown here on the Daytona Beach Campus, earned his undergraduate degree in Aviation Maintenance Science.
David Hughes, shown here on the Daytona Beach Campus, earned his undergraduate degree in Aviation Maintenance Science.

His initial success is one of the key reasons David has now returned to Embry-Riddle, taking online classes through the Worldwide Campus as he works toward his M.S. in Project Management.

Although Worldwide classes are designed to accommodate working professionals like David, pursuing a degree while working a demanding full-time job is still a tall order.

“I'm not going to sugarcoat it, it's been stressful,” he said. “It takes its toll on you after a while. But my grades have all been good. I've got straight A's right now, which is the first time I've done that. I've learned a lot and met a lot of really cool people through our group projects.”

For her part, Silvia says her journey as a professional at Embry-Riddle has been “truly rewarding and empowering to say the least. My favorite part is of course serving and guiding others to achieve their goals and aspirations. The three jobs that I have held here have also provided me with the amazing opportunity to make long lasting and invaluable relationships.”

While David loves his current role at Frontier, his pursuit of a master’s degree is fueling the drive toward his ultimate dream job.

“I would like to be a project manager for Lockheed Martin,” he said. “The aspect of aviation that I like the most is getting more into the fighter jet stuff, and they've developed a lot of those.”

David also said Embry-Riddle’s project management program is allowing to explore exciting new facets of the aviation and aerospace industries.

“With project management, you really see the mixture of technology and business evolve,” he said.

David’s Embry-Riddle success story makes his mother beam.

“Our entire family is so very proud and happy for him,” said Silvia, whose husband John (’07) earned his B.S. in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle. “We knew his education would open doors for him and completing his bachelor’s alone has already exceeded our expectations. Embry-Riddle created opportunities and provided him with the tools to thrive and stand out in the aviation industry at an early age. He is soaring with the Eagles!”

Are you set to soar into your future? Apply at Embry-Riddle today.