With over a decade of experience in law enforcement, Matthew Bellamy had the tactical chops to lead his aviation unit. However, with his eyes set on a Chief Pilot position, Bellamy decided he needed to grow his soft skills and business knowledge. Florida Tech’s BA in Aviation Management online helped fill the gap.
“Before attending Florida Tech, I had the practical knowledge, skills, and abilities to lead a law enforcement unit. I lacked the administrative and business expertise to operate an aviation unit. By completing my degree in Aviation Management, it provided me with many tools I will need to succeed as the Chief Pilot.”
Juggling a full-time job in law enforcement and a full course load was a lot to balance at times, but it was worth it. Bellamy gained skills he was able to immediately apply to his job. His advice?
“You will get out of it what you put into it. If you dedicate the time, energy, and effort into the program, you will come out on top.”
We spoke with him about his experience in the program, his favorite course and more.
Q. Tell us about your background
I was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. I’ve spent the last 13 years working as a law enforcement officer. I’ve been assigned to the aviation unit over the previous 11 years; six as a tactical flight officer, and five as a pilot.
I took my first helicopter flight when I was 16 years old with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. I knew then I wanted to be a helicopter pilot. It was not an easy journey to get where I am today, but with a lot of hard work, determination and my refusal to give up, it has all paid off.
I am now the Lead Pilot for my department, and within the next two years, I should promote to the Chief Pilot’s position. I still have a few hurdles to jump along the way, but with time, energy and effort it will come.
Q. What were the most important factors in your decision to choose Florida Tech?
Flexibility and reputation! After researching many schools, Florida Tech was the frontrunner. I was working full-time and needed the ability to attend classes when I could. After talking to a Florida Tech alum, I decided to apply.
I actually recruited another coworker as I was going through the process! We graduated together this summer.
Q. Do you have any future plans with your degree?
By completing my degree and additional helicopter ratings, I will become eligible for the Chief Pilot’s position at my department. Although a bachelor’s degree was not required, I felt it was necessary to have the proper education so I can effectively and efficiently manage the aviation unit.
Q. What surprised you most about taking an online program?
The amount of work required! I thought the workload would be a bit easier, but I was wrong.
Q. What was your favorite class and why?
Surprisingly, Aviation Research (AVT 4002). I struggled to get started, but ended up finishing with an A. It taught me so much about the research process, how to vet the information and present the findings. I have already put some of those skills to use at my department for a recent project involving fatigue among pilots.
Q. What was your most valuable takeaway from the program?
You will get out of it what you put into it. If you dedicate the time, energy, and effort into the program, you will come out on top.
Q. What advice would you give other students who are considering enrolling in the program?
If you’re able, have time in your schedule dedicated to completing assignments. Do not wait until the last minute to write your research paper!
Also, never give up! It will all be worth it in the end.
Q. Who has been your support system?
Family, friends, supervisors and coworkers.
Q. What was the most challenging part of your student journey?
I was juggling a full-time law enforcement career and a full-time college schedule. There were many times I had to email a professor and ask for extensions on assignments due to my unpredictable job. Thankfully, they were understanding.
Q. Who or what inspires you to succeed?
My dad. Growing up, he worked hard to provide for our family and showed me that hard work is important. I am trying to set the same example for my two girls. I want them to know if you want something, it is going to take hard work and dedication to accomplish it.
Q. What is one fun fact about you?
I learned to fly airplanes before helicopters!
Have you completed one of Florida Tech’s online programs? We would love to share your success story in our Student Spotlight series. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional details.