Tina McCarthy ’09 discovered a love for flying and the determination to overcome obstacles during her time at Florida Tech.
McCarthy graduated with a bachelor’s in aviation management with flight. However, this wasn’t the major she started with.
Having been fascinated by weather since she was a child, McCarthy originally wanted to study meteorology.
“I always thought when there was a thunderstorm, it would turn into a tornado, and then it would blow my house down,” she says. “The only way, in my opinion, to get over your fear is to actually learn more about it, so I knew I wanted to study that.”
After attending a college fair at Villanova University, her plans changed. Visiting all the tables with universities that offered meteorology, McCarthy came across Florida Tech.
“Truthfully, I had never heard of the school,” she says. “The girl who was standing at the booth said, ‘You know, there’s something called aviation meteorology,’ and I said, ‘Well what does that entail?’ She said, ‘You study to be a hurricane hunter, essentially,’ and I thought that was super cool.”
McCarthy visited Florida Tech and fell in love with piloting after experiencing a test flight. Starting as an aviation meteorology major, she changed to aviation management with flight to focus more on her love for flying and less on the mathematical side.
After graduating, McCarthy found her way to FlightSafety International, where she worked part time co-piloting in three aircraft programs as a “right seater” for business jets, i.e., when people would come in for training, McCarthy would sit next to them in the right seat to help guide them.
“After about two years, I ended up taking a full-time job with them in their sales department and did that for about five years,” she says. “Then, I switched over during the coronavirus to the competitor company CAE, where I currently work.”
At CAE Inc., McCarthy manages and sells flight simulation training for business aviation and helicopters.
McCarthy credits Florida Tech for helping her get her ratings through commercial multi-engine aircraft.
“Without having my flight degree with flying in all my ratings, I don’t think I would be in the position that I am today,” she says. “Florida Tech has helped me get all my ratings. You think it’s such a big industry, because airports are all over, but I’ve run into so many people who graduated from Florida Tech.”
Along with a love for the sky, she found a passion for the deep sea. Living in Key West, McCarthy also works part time on a scuba boat. She is certified in advanced open water diving and on a closed-circuit rebreather, which allows her to travel deeper in the ocean and stay under the water longer.
“I get to work on this boat and guide people around,” she says. “There’s a deep wreck—it’s actually the second-largest artificial reef in the world—in Key West, so I do that part time as a divemaster.”
Her advice to current and future panthers is that it’s alright for your path to change and look different from how you previously envisioned it, but to keep pushing yourself and moving forward.
“Don’t give up,” she says. “There were a lot of times I didn’t think I could do it, but here I am.”