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Since he was five years old, Jamal Turner, Jr. has dreamt of becoming a pilot. He took one step closer to reaching his goal last week when he started a position as a pilot at an aerial surveying company. This position will help him gain the flight hours he needs to move up to a regional airline and eventually to a major airline.

Jamal (MGP ’14) completed his pilot training at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, where he plans to gradate with a degree in business this year. He is also a flight instructor.

Last week, Jamal left Delta Airlines, where he was a customer service representative at the Cherry City Airport in Traverse City for just shy of four years. He started his new role on Wednesday.

While he can’t quite pinpoint where his dream of being a pilot came from, he knows he’s been able to get to where he is with help from a vast support system, including his family, friends and Midnight Golf.

“I’ve just always had a fascination with airplanes. I’m not sure what was the core thing that really got me,” Jamal says. “What got me here is the strong support system of my family and friends and just chasing after my dream.”

He credits Midnight Golf, and especially his relationship with his mentors, with helping him. Jamal still golfs, writes thank you notes and knows how to dress for any occasion.

Jim Breaugh, who is a longtime MGP mentor and a pilot with Delta, was instrumental in helping Jamal navigate the airline industry. The two are still in contact today.

As part of the essential workforce, the coronavirus pandemic has not impacted his work. His last weeks at Delta were focused on helping customers.

“I didn’t feel scared but I felt honored to help people get home,” he said.

His advice: “My advice would be for everyone, aviation or not. Chase after your dreams and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Keep your head up and keep taking steps forward.”

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