Bryan Cortez has always had a passion for aviation. But between on-and-off-again active duty with the Navy, a wife and four kids, and coaching T-ball, his life can get busy. He still made time to earn his bachelor’s degree in aviation management, 100% online, through Florida Tech.
“I’m proud to say that I did it with four kids at home, while coaching T-ball, being in the Navy reserves, working full-time, all at the same time. And when people say they don’t have time to do it, I can look at them and say, ‘You’ve got time. You can find time.”
Native to Sebastian, FL, Cortez didn’t have to travel far to attend his commencement ceremony on Florida Tech’s Melbourne campus. That was one of his reasons for choosing Florida Tech.
“I chose it because it’s close, a lot of people know about the school, and I think it’s a really cool school.”
We talked to Cortez about his academic journey and more.
Q. Why did you choose an online degree?
I wouldn’t be able to not work and go to a campus to do school – I had to do it online.
The online experience helped me because I could make my own schedule. I didn’t have to be somewhere at a certain time to take a class and stuff like that, I could do what I needed to do in any little bit of spare time that I had.
Q. Why did you pursue an aviation degree online?
I pursued an online aviation degree because aviation’s always been my passion. In the military I did aviation stuff – I was a mechanic, I flew in the back of C-130’s [large aircraft], so I wanted to pursue aviation and online was my only option because I’ve got a family to take care of and I had to work.
Q. What did you do that helped you plan, get ahead and be successful?
I had deadlines to meet during the week Wednesdays or Thursdays, and I would just sit down and make sure I had it done. All this work we’ve put into it – all this work my wife has put into it – I didn’t want to mess it up. I just did what I had to do when it needed to be done.
The professors helped a lot too. They answered questions right away. It’s not like in a classroom where you can walk in and talk to them. You’ve got to shoot them an email and hope they get back to you, and usually within an hour you get an email back.
Q. Where do you think your degree will take you next in your career or path in life?
This degree is going to help me achieve my goals of working in my dream career in the aviation field, working in an airport in airport operations or airport management. Aviation in general – I just love to be around it.
Q. Who was your support system?
My support group at home is basically my wife, who does everything. I go to work and I come home, and she’s just like nonstop all day long. She goes to work too, but she comes home, takes care of the kids, she’s cooking dinner, she’s cleaning up after the kids. I’m in the corner typing and trying to figure out what I’ve got to do for school and things like that, and she’s just taking the brunt of everything at home with the four kids just running all over her.
We’ve been dating since seventh grade, we got married one year after high school, and she’s just been backing me up ever since. Moving with the military. Totally selfless. And then she helps me get this degree.
I wouldn’t be able to do it without her. She’s done everything, and without her backing me up, this would have stopped a long time ago.
Q. What role did your student services representative play in your journey?
My student services rep was extremely helpful. She helped me take difficult classes and easy classes at the same time. She helped me balance things out when I was scheduling them. She was always checking on me to make sure I was doing well. She would email me in the middle to see how my midterms were going and wish me luck, and any question I had she was right on top of emailing back just like the professors, just really quick with it. I could call her whenever and she would answer the phone.
Q. What advice do you have to share with other online students?
Some advice I would like to share with other online students is just to not give up. You’ve already gotten this far. Every day that you wait is just another day that you’re not going to graduate. So put your head down and keep grinding: you’ll get it done.
Q. What makes you most proud of your academic journey?
I’m most proud of my academic journey because I can say that I did it. There’s a lot of people in my family who never went to school – my mom has a bachelor’s degree, and I think that’s it. So I can say that I did it. It took me a long time to do it, but I finally got it done. I’m proud to say that I did it with four kids at home, while coaching T-ball, being in the Navy reserves, working full-time, all at the same time. And when people say they don’t have time to do it, I can look at them and say, “You’ve got time. You can find time.”
Are you a graduate of Florida Tech’s 100% online degree programs? We would love to share your success story in our Student Spotlight series. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional details.