AeroStar founder Tammera Holmes training at-risk kids for aviation careers

AeroStar founder Tammera Holmes training at-risk kids for aviation careers
Photo courtesy of Tony Ferguson

After walking away from the corporate side of the aviation industry, Tammera Holmes began her journey teaching kids how to get careers in aviation through her foundation, AeroStar Avion Institute. A rough kid from a rough neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago, Holmes found that aviation replaced the adrenaline rush she got from getting into trouble and now looks to help underserved kids who face the same dilemmas. She shared with rolling out how she encourages them to pursue careers in aviation and aerospace that can serve them well.

Tell us about your program.

The AeroStar Avion Institute is based in Chicago. We specialize in aviation and aerospace education, from kindergarten to career. Our K-4 AeroSparks program ignites kids’ interest in all things flight. Fifth through eighth grade is all about aviation, science, technology, engineering and math, and teaching kids with their skill sets and capabilities at the ripe age of impression. Then we get to the aviation apprenticeship programs for our high school students. These programs get students on track to career pathways, immersing them in the aviation industry so they can find their pathway. We also specialize in finding kids’ unique paths in the aviation industry based on what they like to do. 

Why is it important for young African Americans to seek out jobs in the aerospace and aviation industries?

One of the most important reasons for young people — especially from underserved communities — to take a look at aviation and aerospace career pathways, number one, transportation is one of the highest-paying industries in the world. Many jobs in this industry, especially entry-level jobs, do not require a college degree. As we know, most people that grow up in inner cities actually have a trauma-based brain, which actually thrives under pressure. These careers are the perfect pathway for young people to be able to change the game for their family, economically, and for their future. My story can be anybody’s story. These jobs are attainable. Also, many Black and Brown young men are diagnosed with ADD and ADHD at a young age and stay in that pipeline as they get older. Aviation careers have been validated to show that the disorders are prime for a high-functioning role like jobs that you can do with your hands. 

Does AeroStar have a curriculum that can help kids in the program find the perfect job for them in the industry?

We are actually working on some proprietary software that can help us match aviation jobs with personalities and skill sets. People don’t really see that a lot of aviation jobs are considered jobs in other industries. Coding, IT, technology, architecture, etc. One thing we specialize in is not necessarily our curriculum — it’s the kids.

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