They are part of a 138-feet-long, 41-feet-high piece of art that will fly in Alaska’s fleet for up to 10 years to symbolize Alaska’s own equity journey and our collective commitment to education in partnership with organizations like UNCF.
Profiles of 14 students — family members and mentees of Alaska’s employees – are represented on the aircraft. Recently, these remarkable young people have shared their reflections on equity and education, in their own words:
“Equity is something a kid can’t control, yet could possibly affect their entire future,” says Shilah, 11th grade. “Every child deserves an equal opportunity to be able to succeed, and you only get that when you have an equal playing field.”
“Knowledge is power. If you have knowledge, you can change the world. You can make it a better place and that’s what we really need to do,” says Dominique, 11th grade.
“Equity challenges the imbalances and power within our society,” says Alexis, sophomore at Whitworth University. “Equity is not about making sure that everybody has the same amount. It’s about making sure that everybody has the same start.”
Learn more about the children, grandchildren and mentees of Alaska’s employees featured on our newest special aircraft
Represented in order of how they appear on the aircraft from nose to tail.
DAUGHTER OF SARAH, DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION SPECIALIST (SEA)
Jade is featured at the front of the aircraft just before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.‘s quote. She is a linguistics major at the University of Washington and has studied Spanish, Portuguese and Swahili. She is also fluent in German, which she taught herself in just three years by watching YouTube videos and reading books.
“I’ve always been captivated by foreign languages. When I was younger, growing up in Seattle, I’d always be surrounded by different cultures and languages and was curious to know what they were saying,” said Jade. “So, when I figured out linguistics was a field and something I could study in university. I was like, ‘that’s it,’ and I haven’t changed my mind since.”
Her mom, Sarah, who has been a customer service agent and manager at the Seattle airport and lounge, and leads Alaska’s Black employee resource group, is inspired by her daughter’s willingness to never give up and to look at all the steps, no matter how hard they are, and go for it.
“Jade is an example of what happens when you don’t block your kids from doing the things they think of — and kids can think of some pretty ridiculous things — like when she told me she wanted to learn German. I remember saying to myself, ‘Why, you’ve already done four years of Spanish?’ But she had this idea and not only that but teaching herself. Inside, I had doubts, but I didn’t say anything, and if I had, I wonder if she would have had doubts too and not be where she’s at today? I’ve learned as a parent not to put barriers in front of children and let them be whoever they want to be,” Sarah said.
DAUGHTER OF FRANCHESSA, ALASKA AIRLINES FLIGHT ATTENDANT (LAX)
Elle is a freshman in Long Beach, California. She is on the high school track and field team and says she feels the freest when running. After graduation, she hopes to attend Howard University or another HBCU.
She also enjoys playing Minecraft and creating on TikTok. She says her biggest influences are her mom and actress Zendaya because they are “strong, beautiful and talented.”
“I always caution her never to limit herself,” her mom, Franchessa said. “‘Go out there and get it,’ I tell her. As females, and Black females, we are already limited, so I tell her to make herself as marketable as possible. I think that’s one of the reasons I named her Elle. I have two kids and named them their names for a reason — Because I didn’t want them to be limited by anything if I could help it. I didn’t want them to be stereotyped or have less opportunity. I wanted it to be as even playing ground as possible — school especially should give every kid a fair start.”
MENTEE OF KIM, ALASKA AIRLINES FIRST OFFICER (SEA)
London grew up fascinated by the planes she could see from her house as they took off from Boeing Field and Renton Municipal Airport. By age 14, she was immersed in aerospace education programs — and now, she has her own private pilot’s license and plans on graduating from the Air Force Academy in 2025.
“I want to get a degree in either aerospace engineering or computer science, and probably a minor in French, and pilot slot through the Air Force too,” she said.
She is currently at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School in Colorado Springs, and has high hopes of flying jets, following in the footsteps of her mentor, Alaska Airlines First Officer Kim Ford.
“I’m glad that I have had the opportunity to be a part of flying organizations like Red Tailed Hawks through Black Pilots of America and fly camps where I get to see other people that look like me flying,” said London. “Internships are also important for kids my age to learn, grow and gain experience and great mentors, like Kim. Making sure there are opportunities like that is so valuable and has helped me and my other pilot friends get to where we are at today.”
SON OF GLORIA, ALASKA AIRLINES RESERVATION AGENT (PHX)
Shimone, 15, is a high school freshman in Arizona. He loves football and has played the game since he could pick up a ball. “He is a great sport on and off the field,” says his mom.
Gloria, a reservations agent in Phoenix, says Shimone is shy but very sweet and kind. When he’s not playing football as a defensive back, he is doing schoolwork online or playing PlayStation. He also attends Bible study at least once a week.
Shimone is one of nine brothers and three sisters—who he loves to play pranks on, says Gloria. “He’s a very good big brother and mentor. I just remind him to work on his mindset and always stay focused and that education is the key to success.”
“Shimone inspires me because he’s so mature for his age, he makes me laugh and is such a big helper. His heart is just so sweet like he’s just very kind and I love it.” – Gloria
When Shimone grows up, he’s thinking about becoming a fireman.
DAUGHTER OF SHIRAH, ALASKA AIRLINES FLIGHT ATTENDANT (LAX)
Shilah, 16, aspires to have a career in STEM. She loves computer science, graphic design and crochets for fun. When she’s not doing schoolwork, she loves playing golf with her dad, Devon—he taught her everything she knows about the sport. Ever since she picked up a club, she’s enjoyed the critical and technical thinking required to make every stroke and putt. When she graduates, she hopes to attend MIT.
“I’m a very artsy person, but I’m also very meticulous with my work, so I like certain things and subjects like math and science that have an order to it. I want to be a software developer or just like graphic design. I want to mix the two worlds I enjoy into one, so I can have a career I enjoy,” Shilah said.
Shilah’s mom, Shirah, an Alaska Airlines flight attendant, says her daughter is like her ‘yang’ and has helped her to think differently.
“My generation was raised completely different than her generation, so she’s taught me to be a little bit more open-minded and open to learning new things her way,” Shirah said. “Just because we are the parents doesn’t mean that there’s not an opportunity for us to sit back and learn from our kids. She’s taught me not to just be the parent, but to also be the student with her.”
SON OF JONNY, ART DESIGNER OF OUR COMMITMENT AIRCRAFT
Micah, 22, is a 2020 graduate of the Air Force Academy. He is now a 2nd Lieutenant and is beginning his journey to becoming a pilot.
At the Academy, Micah studied economics and played Division I football and later took up boxing and was named All-American. He is currently stationed in San Antonio, Texas, awaiting pilot training. He looks forward to flying the T-6 Texan later this year.
Micah was inspired to go into the military because of his grandfather on his biological father’s side, who earned a Purple Heart while serving in the Vietnam War. Jonny, Micah’s dad and one of Alaska’s Our Commitment aircraft designers, has been in Micah’s life since he was two years old.
“My Dad’s taught me empathy and patience and that being different makes you special,” says Micah, who is biracial. “Growing up, having two white parents, I usually had to explain myself to new people and could see the shock on their faces … what a lot of biracial kids experience is like ‘you’re not black enough for the black kids and not white enough for the white kids’ and you are always kind of looked at a little bit different. I’m thankful I’m able to embrace those differences now and look at them as a positive.”
“Micah’s dedication is just beyond anything I’ve ever seen,” Jonny said. “He’s always been the kid who wakes up early to go workout, leaves school and trains and did all of the things necessary to be above and beyond. And that’s been something I learned and changed about myself after seeing it in him and try to emulate in my own career today.”
SON OF MACARA, ALASKA AIRLINES TRAINING DELIVERY SPECIALIST (SEA)
Arthur is in 8th grade and was just accepted to an aviation and aerospace STEM high school. His greatest love is aeronautics and space exploration. He also enjoys creating models using his 3D printer—his favorite creations are his custom chess pieces. His biggest dream is to fly in space. Arthur holding custom 3-D chess pieces he designed.
“We walk on the ground and can only see birds in the sky or planes. So, I think it’s fun to be able to think of what space is like and what it’s like to get off your feet and fly like an astronaut — like a bird in the sky but figuring out everything to make sure that you can stay in the air and everything that goes into that process excites me,” said Arthur.
“He wants to build a cruise ship in space or in the sky one day, and you know, that’s OK,” Macara said. “I tell him it’s OK to think farfetched and beyond what people think because the greatest creators are usually the ones who achieve what we all once believed to be impossible. He just amazes me and thinks in a different way that encourages me to be patient and expand my mind a little bit more too.”
SON OF RON, ALASKA AIRLINES BASE CHIEF PILOT (SEA)
After traveling to Europe with his family during the 2010 World Cup games, Brandon caught the soccer bug and is now a sophomore at the University of Portland, living out his Division I dream as a goalkeeper for the men’s soccer team.
“He’s a goalkeeper and that makes him a little crazy. Goalkeepers have to run toward the ball instead of running away from the ball,” his dad, Ron, Alaska base chief pilot in Seattle, said jokingly. “They have a great program and are a nationally ranked team, so when he was recruited, that was cool. I’m very proud of him.”
Ron says his kids, who are biracial, have what they call ‘this half and half hybrid thing going on, which is awesome.’ He says the important thing is when they see themselves, they see what is important: “whatever they want to see.”
“When they asked us what color they were — once you discover you have a color … so awful, right? — You get this, label of color, and my kids are mixed, so they asked what color? ‘Well, my dad is Black, my mom’s white.’ And we’ve always said, ‘you’re just the color beautiful,’ and that’s where we left it for years,” said Ron, father of both Brandon and Cameron.
SON OF RON, ALASKA AIRLINES BASE CHIEF PILOT (SEA)
Cameron attends Washington State University, where he majors in broadcast journalism and works three jobs. When he graduates in the spring of 2021, he’s thinking about moving to New York City to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, specifically for late-night talk shows. His favorites are The Daily with Trevor Noah and the Week Update segment on Saturday Night Live.
“My guys — they are blazing their own trails. They deal with situations that I never dealt with, being mixed race, so I try to help them, but I also respect the fact that I don’t live in their shoes. I don’t know what it’s like to be them. I can empathize and we can talk, and they always know they’ll have unconditional love from me, so that makes it so much easier. But they also realize, and I let him know, that they will never be victims. They may be targeted sometimes, but we are never, ever going to be a victim.”
GRANDDAUGHTER OF HILDA, ALASKA AIRLINES STATION OPERATIONS DUTY MANAGER (SEA)
Dominique is in 11th grade in South Seattle. She loves water polo, literature and working with children at a daycare in South Seattle. She plans to attend an HBCU and aspires to have a career in social work.
“I really enjoy being around kids, like I really do. I love my little sister. I love all the kids that are at the daycare that I work at,” says Dominique.
Her dream is to attend Morgan State University in Baltimore or Howard University in Washington, D.C. because of their social work and psychology programs.
“My favorite subject right now is a college readiness class. We work on applications, resumes and what’s best for us and what we’re doing right now to be successful later on,” she said.
“It’s been beautiful to see her flourish and to watch her grow. She’s so used to fighting and working so hard that it’s just become a part of her. I’ve never seen anyone so determined to win,” said her grandmother, Hilda, who is a station operations duty manager in Seattle.
DAUGHTER OF JOHN-ANTONY, ALASKA AIRLINES SENIOR TEST MANAGER (SEA)
Alexis is currently a sophomore at Whitworth University. She is double majoring in International Studies and French, with aspirations of going into law. She is passionate about policy and what policy can do to change lives. She also enjoys poetry and roller skating with her friends.
When asked what the most influential thing is that she’s learned from her dad, John-Antony Dubreuil, a leader in ABEA, Alaska’s Black employee resource group and ITS senior test manager, is ‘the power of hard work.’
“I know that sounds really cheesy and it sounds like the go-to answer that every minority student will ever say but it’s true — it’s hard work that gets you places, and being diligent. I think it’s also important to think critically about various subjects. Like not to just accept things as they are but seek to understand why they are how they are and what you can do to change it.”
“Education is important because ignorance brings pain. It brings a lot of hurt and a lack of empathy and compassion for people of different backgrounds and different cultures. Education plays a huge a role in learning what’s what and a holistic education teaches you about so many different things,” Alexis said.
SON OF KAREN, FORMER ALASKA AIRLINES DIRECTOR OF DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION (SEA)
Kaden is a high school sophomore and a member of the school’s bowling club and the Special Olympics swim team. Kaden is on the autism spectrum and was non-verbal until he was 6 years old. These days, you can’t get him to stop talking––his favorite thing to say is “I love you, Mommy.”
“I want Kaden to have the same opportunities that anyone else has. I want him to have the life that his sister has. I want him to graduate high school in the same amount of time as other students … I want him taking the classes that everybody else is taking. It’s important for me because I never want anyone to give up on my son,” she said.
Kaden is a straight A student and loves his classes, and his teachers adore him.
“Equity is really important, because regardless of the differences he has or his learning ability, he is thriving and I believe that is because of equity,” says Karen.
DAUGHTER OF KAREN, FORMER ALASKA AIRLINES DIRECTOR OF DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION (SEA)
Kyra is a high school senior and plays basketball at an academy in Florida. She hopes to continue playing in college and has been accepted to all of her college choices for academics.
“Honestly, I just want to be my best self if that makes sense like wherever life takes me. If basketball is not a part of it or is, I just want to live out my life to its fullest potential. Like I don’t want to limit myself,” she said. “I would just like to be successful at whatever I do in life, like my mom who has built her way up in her career and I think it’s so impressive and I just want to be like her.”
Kyra is passionate about representation, especially within education. She helped organize a Black student union at her previous high school and likes how her new school has many clubs to represent minorities.
“I felt like I really belong here, like I’m at home even though I’m across the country away from my family,” she said. “Equity in the classroom leads to how people start out in their professional lives — when they go to college or enter the business world. It’s important to know where someone is coming from and what makes them who they are.”
Her mom, Karen, was part of the group who started on the path to designing Our Commitment aircraft.
SON OF JOHN-ANTONY, ALASKA AIRLINES SENIOR TEST MANAGER (SEA)
Jonathan is currently a freshman at the University of Washington, majoring in communications. He loves coordinating social events with his friends and listening to jazz music. He also speaks French and Spanish.
Jonathan thinks education should be looked at with circular logic.
“Education in many ways is correlated to a paycheck and the higher your education, the more you typically are paid — it’s what you can do with that money that matters. If that money could be pumped back into your community, it could open so many more doors and the rest of your community could have the opportunity to be educated.”
Growing up, Jonathan and his family practiced Karate. He says he learned a lot of life lessons from it.
“Something my dad says a lot, when we did karate that still resonates with me, is ‘practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect performance.’ And, like this plane, it’s a great start but its impact will depend on the actions put into it.”