Monday, May 27, 2024

Sky’s the limit

By Minal Abhange

For many people, the appeal of flying lies in the boundless freedom above the clouds.

This feeling is also shared by Cassiopia Leonards and Kieron Gomes, two of five students who travelled from Antigua and Barbuda to Gander, NL. In making the move, they waved goodbye to the hot climate and sandy shores to further their career as aviation professionals.

Both Cassiopia and Kieron have been fascinated with helicopters, single engine planes, and even jumbo jets since they were young. After all, flight is one of humankind’s greatest technological achievements. 

“I knew I did not want to pursue a conventional career and my fascination for aircrafts motivated me to pursue the Aircraft Maintenance Technician Programme at The Antigua State College, and I am proud of all my successes so far,” says Cassiopia.

Kieron added that his love of aircraft as a child also strongly encouraged him to pursue the same program as Cassiopia.

Newfoundland and the CNA journey

Living in Gander, almost 4,000 kilometres away from Antigua and a fair bit colder, Cassiopia and Kieron are currently pursuing their first year in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Technician Program at College of the North Atlantic (CNA).

Both say they are among the fortunate ones to take advantage of the CNA partnership with The Antigua State College, as this will be a stepping stone for their careers in many ways.

The Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Technician Program at CNA primarily focuses on hands-on-training in the aviation safety and airworthiness inspection, maintenance, and troubleshooting repair of aircraft and helicopter components, as well as safely performing ground handling and routine inspections.

“In Antigua, I studied a lot of theory at the Antigua State College and applying all the knowledge on aircraft and helicopters makes me more confident and job ready,” says Cassiopia.

“I have heard and seen the aircraft and helicopters in my books learned all the theory; finally working on them is just amazing,” Kieron adds. 

Kieron Gomes, a first-year Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Technician student from Antigua, already has a job offer in Halifax, N.S.

Bob Dwyer CNA’s Campus Director (Aviation) in Gander, says, “The Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Technician Program at CNA focuses to ensure students attain professional theory training as well as practical work experience on real world aircraft making them acquainted with the industry standards which helps them transition in the workforce smoothly.”

Global Career Horizons

Cassiopia and Kieron’s favourite part of studying at CNA is the hands-on-training and the amazing support peers and instructors.

“The student and staff are very friendly, which makes it very easy to connect with my peers,” says Cassiopia. “The curriculum is more focused and fast paced than I used to back home; however, there are several resources for students which motivates me to stay focused towards my career goals.”

Kieron says, “It is very cold compared to my hometown, but it is very beautiful with majestic scenery, so I am really looking forward for summer to explore new places. Also peers and teachers have been incredibly welcoming and friendly which makes it fun.

“Completing my education at CNA prepares me for the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification, which opens a lot of doors to opportunities not just here in Canada, but worldwide, as the program is recognized globally.”

Cassiopia and Kieron’s message to international students aspiring to study in Newfoundland?

“Take advantage of the opportunities that come your way. The decision of coming to Newfoundland has changed our lives in so many ways. Sky is not the limit, especially if you like to build and upgrade aircrafts and helicopters or even the rockets that we ride into space.”

For more information on the aviation programs offered at CNA visit

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Glenda Tompkins
Glenda Tompkins
Glenda is a 20-year marketing and communications veteran currently specializing in photography/videography and social media management. She has garnered multiple awards for her innovative, strategic campaigns at CNA. Her experience includes writing, editing, graphic design, event planning, and more. When she’s not reviewing social media engagement analytics, she enjoys spending quality time with her young family.


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