When VanWest Alumni Orlando Contreras first came to Vancouver in 2012 he was only 18 years old, but he knew exactly what he wanted. He dreamed of becoming a pilot and he...
When VanWest Alumni Orlando Contreras first came to Vancouver in 2012 he was only 18 years old, but he knew exactly what he wanted. He dreamed of becoming a pilot and he traveled from Mexico to Vancouver because he knew that he needed to learn English in order to achieve his dream.
Like with most students, the beginning was tough. He started at level 4 and he felt that he did not understand as much as he thought he should in his classes.
He studied diligently and worked his way up the levels. He eventually improved enough to take a variety of high-level English courses, from Advanced IELTS to BULATS.
“Orlando took my Business English course,” says Edward, “And despite his young age, he was the leader of this relatively serious class. I found him polite, hardworking, enthusiastic, and a lot of fun to have in class.”
Not only did his teachers appreciate his contributions to the class, but the entire school benefited from his active participation and leadership in the school activities.
“I believe that the best way to meet people and the best way to test your real English ability is through activities outside the school,” says Orlando. To meet more native English speakers, he joined a rugby team in Stanley Park. This and all his other activities gave him countless opportunities to practice his English.
By putting himself out there so often and studying diligently, he improved his English skills – all while having fun!
Orlando says that the most memorable day for him was his graduation day. After experiencing so much, he felt grateful to all the people who had helped him along the way. His teachers instructed him and made him laugh with their bright personalities.
“I knew that I would close a chapter in my life and start a new one.”
A week after his graduation, Orlando went to Dallas, Texas to begin his aviation studies. From the day he started at his flight school to the day he got a job it took exactly 2 years. Currently, he’s been working as a first officer at a Mexican company called Volaris for one year.
Through hard work and determination, Orlando can now proudly state that he is a licensed pilot. This success is celebrated by all of his previous teachers, who still remember his time at VanWest.
“Orlando was a friendly and sociable student who contributed to my class with enthusiasm,” recalls Kris, one of his teachers. “Personally, I am so happy that he fulfilled his goal to be a pilot.”
“I was very happy to learn that he was now achieving his dream of being a professional pilot,” states Edward. “I have had a lot of students over the years, but Orlando is one that I remember easily and fondly.”
Orlando is always on the lookout for the next challenge. He says that his next dream is to eventually work at the Emirates, in Qatar – the top of the top in aviation. It is not easy to work there. There is a long process of exams, interviews, and a requirement of 3000 hours of flight time.
VanWest wishes him the best of luck, and those who had the luck of meeting him during his stay in Vancouver hope to see him again. He says he is thinking of returning to the city one day, and maybe study in the college courses offered at VanWest.
“You know, the bad thing about Vancouver is that you fall in love with that city. You’re never going to forget it. I’m going to a lot of places because of my job. I always say, you know it’s good, it’s nice, but it’s not as good as Vancouver.”
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