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Alumni Profile: Thomas Rickman ’00, Commercial Airline Pilot and CDS Mentor

Thomas Rickman '00, his adviser Jackie Gouge, and his mentee, senior Braxton Wynn during one of Thomas's visits back to Carolina Day School.

Thomas Rickman ’00, his adviser Jackie Gouge, and his mentee, senior Braxton Wynn during one of Thomas’s visits back to Carolina Day School.

Thomas Rickman, class of 2000, appreciates Carolina Day School for getting him started on his career path. Now, he’s giving back to the school as a mentor to a senior interested in following in his footsteps.

Thomas came to Carolina Day School in the tenth grade. “Before I came to CDS, I went to a school that was cliquish. I wasn’t doing great in school, and I didn’t like it very much. At Carolina Day the teachers were great, students got along, and I knew everyone! I liked the smaller school; it was a totally different learning environment. If you’re around a lot of kids who want to do well, it makes you want to do well.”

He particularly felt connected to his advisor Mrs. Gouge and math teacher Mrs. Hardy while he was here. He said Mrs. Hardy would let him do his homework in her room during free periods and was always available to him when he had questions.

His math preparation at CDS served him well when he went to school to get his Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Science at the prestigious flight school, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. Thomas believes his CDS experience helped him succeed in college because his teachers instilled in him that it’s not just important to pass classes to get good grades, but to “really understand the material and know this stuff for your future!”

Since he graduated, Thomas has built a career as a commercial airline pilot flying the Airbus 319, 320 & 321. “It’s not as much about the traveling, “ Thomas said, “as it is that I’ve had a dream to fly airplanes since I was a little kid. I wanted to do something where I wouldn’t be sitting at a desk.”

Last year, Braxton Wynn, a current senior for the class of 2013, started to think that he might want to consider a career as a pilot but didn’t know where to start. Ashly Maag in the alumni office heard about Braxton’s interest and asked Thomas if he would be willing to share his experience with a current student.

Thomas was eager to reconnect with CDS and meet a current student.  After meeting Braxton, he knew right away that he was someone he’d like to mentor as he makes his way into the aeronautical field. “Seeing the look on his face when I showed him [Braxton] the video of us landing was wonderful.  I knew he had the dream and the desire to fly like I had.”

Thomas has continued to meet with Braxton to share his experience and provide books and a pilot’s log book to help in his training.

Thomas reflected, “I wish I had his experience when I started! When I went to Embry Riddle, I knew nothing of the process. There are so many levels to getting where I am and I had no idea about the different components. I know having a mentor would have been a big help. There are so many ways to become a pilot. I’m trying to lead him [Braxton] down the right path.”

We join Braxton in being grateful to Thomas for helping another kid’s dream of flying come true. Check out Braxton flying in this video!

Author Bio

Zanne Garland

Zanne Garland is the Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations at Carolina Day School. She has 10 years of nonprofit development experience and is excited to work in the Advancement Office with staff, alumni, faculty, and parents to build relationships with stakeholders and to continue to grow annual support for the school.