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Skywest CEO Offers Graduates ‘Four Fundamental Truths’ 

The fall semester 2018 graduating class at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s (ERAU) Prescott campus helped celebrate the conclusion of the 40th anniversary of its founding in an impressive graduation ceremony. 

More than 1,000 people gave a standing ovation to the 249 students who received degrees ranging from baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral during morning ceremonies Dec. 15, at the Prescott Valley Event Center.  

Students from more than 17 nations were represented among the graduating class.  

Keynote speaker Russell “Chip” Childs, chief executive officer and president of SkyWest, Inc, the holding company for SkyWest Airlines and Express Jet Airlines, praised the degree recipients, calling them “…graduates of the world’s most prestigious aeronautical and aerospace institution.” 

During his remarks, the 18-year veteran executive with the nation’s largest regional airline alliance gave graduates what he called “four fundamental truths” by which to guide their personal and professional careers. 

They are summarized as follows: 

  • Develop strong personal relationships with others. Make them a priority – with family, employees, customers, friends – and everything else will fall into place. Always act with integrity. 
  • Make it a priority to simplify. Take a complex problem, boil it down to its core – and then solve it. Learning to simplify will help in a career path and will strengthen relationships. 
  • Know your weaknesses – and your strengths. Don’t brood over weaknesses, but move ahead and leverage your strong points. 
  • Be prepared for unexpected opportunities. More often than not, there are twists and turns, and new roads. Look at those as opportunities. 

Childs’s final piece of advice to the graduates was pointed and direct: “Look around you at family, friends and mentors who have supported you in your journey. Thank them, and be grateful. The future is bright, and it’s yours.” 

As CEO, Childs is responsible for overseeing a successful airline that has 17,000 employees and serves more than 53 million passengers annually. The airline is headquartered in St. George, Utah. 

During an evening event the day before commencement, he spoke with Prescott community leaders that he and his colleagues at SkyWest, flying under the United Express banner, are enthusiastic about working with the City of Prescott in bringing commercial air service to Prescott Regional Airport in August. “We did the numbers, and they penciled out. Having a commercial airline out of Prescott is a positive experience for all involved.”  

Since late August, the airline has transported more than 8,000 passengers to either Denver or Los Angeles out of Ernest A. Love Field. It’s anticipated that number will exceed 10,000 by the end of December.  


Commissioning Military Officers, Honoring Students  

ERAU President Barry Butler, from Daytona Beach, Florida, and Chancellor Frank Ayers, from the ERAU Prescott campus, guided other commencement activities such as the commissioning of ROTC officers. Two graduates were sworn into the U.S. Air Force and six into the U.S. Army as second lieutenants.  

Several other students were honored for academic excellence from their respective colleges. In addition, Ayers honored an outstanding graduating senior scholar and an outstanding community service award contributor. 

Ayers said proudly, “I have no problem in saying that these graduating students are among some of the brightest people who have ever attended this university.”  

Students graduating represented 153 from the Prescott campus, 95 from the worldwide campus, and one Ph. D. candidate from the Daytona Beach campus.  

This fall saw record-breaking enrollment at the Prescott campus of almost 3,000 students. ERAU is the world’s largest, oldest and most comprehensive higher education institution specializing in aviation, aerospace, engineering and related programs. QCBN 

 By Ray Newton, QCBN 






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