National Latinx and Hispanic Heritage Month
Tuesday, October 3, 2023
We continue to celebrate and highlight the contributions and achievements of Spanish-speaking Americans throughout National Latinx Hispanic Heritage Month. Join me as we learn a little bit about New York-based Flight Attendant Edwin Rodriguez!
NYC Flight Attendant Edwin Rodriguez
“It was in 2007, shortly after graduating from high school, when I left Santiago, Dominican Republic, leaving my mother’s arms for the first time. I arrived in the United States like many others who left their country in search of the American dream and to also give a more dignified life to my mother.
Not knowing how to speak English was not an impediment in wanting to grow and learn. From cleaning houses, cleaning airplanes and pushing wheelchairs at the airport; those were some of the jobs I have done to achieve my American dream. Working at the airport was where I started my journey; some doors closed not allowing me the opportunity which allowed better ones to open. That allowed me to start climbing the ladder which has led me to believe the sky’s the limit.
I remember one day when my mother and I were walking through JFK American Airlines Terminal 8 and my mother stood in front of the huge glass window which connects the hallway to different terminals. She was so mesmerized, all she was able to say was “look how big that plane is.” In that very moment she gave me all the motivation I needed to continue growing. I looked at her and said, “One day you will see me working on that plane and no longer as an Aircraft Cleaner.” That’s when I decided to apply for the position of Flight Attendant at American Airlines and Envoy.
While American Airlines told me that it wasn’t the right time yet, Envoy called me for an interview and offered me the Flight Attendant position the same day. Two years later, I decided to re-apply for the same position at American Airlines, and it was then in 2020 when I was hired and invited to class 20-04. Four weeks after starting the training, we learned that we could not finish the training due to the pandemic. A lot of disappointment and frustration came with the news we had to leave the academy until further notice. It was not until November 2021 when I finally saw my dream of being an American Airlines Flight Attendant come true and thus fulfilling the promise I had made to my mother. A dream that I never thought would come true as a young Hispanic man who a few years ago did not dominate the English language and didn’t know anything about the culture of this great country that has given me and many others amazing opportunities.
The most beautiful thing about my job is having the opportunity to meet people from everywhere around the world and learn about their culture, which has opened my heart and mind. It has also given the opportunity for others to know and learn from my culture, and things like merengue, mangu; the carnival we celebrate in The Dominican Republic every February, the happiness of our people fills everyone around us with joy and satisfaction.
I am proud to say I’m part of a hard working, dedicated, friendly and supportive community as it is the Hispanic community.”
Thank you, Edwin, for sharing your journey!
APFA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee Chair