The Air Up There Podcast
Taking Flight Advancing Hispanic Employment at the FAA

Season 6, Episode 8

The FAA provides boundless career opportunities within the aviation sector for people of all backgrounds. In this episode, Migdalia Gonzalez, the Hispanic Employment Program Manager in the FAA’s Office of Civil Rights provides insight on the importance of representation and outreach to attract talent from underrepresented communities.

Tune in to hear how the FAA's educational outreach initiatives empower students to pursue aviation careers. Plus, be inspired by Migdalia's personal journey and discover how she helps Hispanic students find their own path within the dynamic aerospace industry, including guiding them through the complex federal job application process.

Learn how the FAA’s Minority Serving Institutions Internship Program provides opportunities to eligible students from groups that have been underrepresented in Aviation, Aeronautics, and other STEM related industries.

A diverse aerospace workforce contributes to the industry's growth and innovation. Share this impactful episode with your network to join us in advocating for equal opportunities for all and amplifying the message that 'todo es posible' (everything is possible)! 

Meet Our Guest:  
Migdalia Gonzalez is the Hispanic Employment Program Manager at the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) Office of Civil Rights. She works to develop relationships with external and internal partners and serves as the program advisor and consultant to management on outreach initiatives with a focus on the Hispanic community. Prior to joining the FAA, she was the Supervisory Training Officer at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Housing. She is a master trainer and motivational speaker and has delivered training to both public and private sector organizations. Migdalia is committed to the development of others to create a more diverse and inclusive community for all.
Disclaimer: Reference in this podcast to any specific commercial product, process, service, manufacturer, company, or trademark does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. government, Department of Transportation, or Federal Aviation Administration. As an agency of the U.S. government, the FAA cannot endorse or appear to endorse any specific product or service. 

Taking Flight Advancing Hispanic Employment at the FAA
Taking Flight Advancing Hispanic Employment at the FAA
Audio file

Migdalia Gonzalez: The opportunities are endless, whether it's business administration, whether it's finance, whether you want to be a pilot, whether you want to be an air traffic controller, how about an inspector, right? There's all of these opportunities available. Don't ever give up.

Lucy Jabbour: That is Migdalia Gonzalez, the Hispanic Employment Program Manager in the FAA’s Office of Civil Rights.

Terria: Migdalia ensures that Hispanic Americans have equal opportunity in recruitment, hiring, training, and advancement in Federal employment. And she’s our guest.

Lucy: We’re your hosts. I’m Lucy Jabbour. 

Terria: And I’m Terria Garner – And this is the Air Up There!

Various People: This is your captain speaking. The feeling I get when I’m flying is just; you get an adrenaline rush. Seeing something fly is awesome. It’s incredible to be able to fly. Flying airplanes is all I’ve ever wanted to do. I get so excited about aviation, aeronautics, space, engineering, and tech. Like star gazing and just wondering what it would be like to be up there. I just fell in love with it. Stick with your passion and pursue it. Just know you can do it. There is not a room, there is not a cockpit, there is not a place that you don’t belong. There’s certainly a place for everybody in aerospace.

Terria: Did you know that the FAA’s Civil Rights Outreach Programs aim to help all members of society have equal access to programs that can lead to future employment?

Lucy: The FAA offers multiple pathways to help you explore aerospace as a hobby and as a career. This includes a variety of internship and fellowship programs, outreach events, and more!

Terria: There are people working at the FAA that focus on creating awareness around opportunities for people of all backgrounds - just like today’s guest, Migdalia Gonzalez.
Terria Garner: For you, what does it mean to be the FAA’s POC for Hispanic employment?

Migdalia Gonzalez: I have the opportunity and the privilege, really, to do outreach events to attract talent to the agency. Obviously, it has Hispanic in my name and the title and the goal is to really attract talented Latinos. We all have different ideas, thoughts, experiences and that's how we can be more creative, more innovative. We get to really develop programs that are addressing the needs of the communities we serve.

Terria Garner: What did access look like for you growing up and how has that changed today?

Migdalia Gonzalez: So, growing up in the city, in New York City. Started off in the Bronx. Everybody looked like me. So, I didn't... because New York is so diverse. It wasn't that I was never ever exposed to different people because it was everywhere. But then when you start going out and you start realizing the lack thereof. At the age of 14, I went away to school and I was not only the only Hispanic in the school, but in the whole town. Like not even the Spanish teacher was Spanish. Being the entire reverse where I was the oddball out, right? I was the Hispanic.  I remember coming up in the ranks not having someone. I couldn't call my mom and say, hey, Mom, do you know someone at the bank over there who might be able to give me a job? We don't have that network. Like when I was growing up, no one ever spoke to me about aviation and now we're talking to these little kids about they could be a pilot. They could be air traffic controllers. Affording a child the opportunity to talk to someone who either sounds like them, or looks like them, or understands where they come from, and what challenges they may face. And for me to just open the door just a little bit and to see, to see the excitement in their face of what if like, this is possible. That's really what drives me every day. Like, can I just help another kid. 

Lucy Jabbour: What kind of like events are you doing? Is it like speaking events? Is there hands on stuff?  

Migdalia Gonzalez: So, we do a lot of events. So, some of them are virtual. Like, I'll go through Handshake, which is a college platform and I'll do info sessions, right. Unfortunately, the college system, whether it's the HSIs, the HBCUs, they talk to the kids about all of the opportunities available in the private sector. They never talk about the opportunities in the government. They also don't prep them on how to write a resume for the federal government, because that is a beast all by itself. 

Lucy Jabbour: It is really intimidating if you're not in it and no one's explained it to you.

Migdalia Gonzalez: That's like I feel is my opportunity because I go in and I create info sessions. So, I'll bring in someone, I'll invite someone from HR, because we want to make sure we give out the right information regarding our internship opportunities. I go into navigating How do you read these announcements? What does that look like? What should you include in your resume? But it's also about talking about themselves, which is always a difficult point for a lot of folks.   Oh, and what I do is I invite colleagues from different lines of businesses. Why? I want them to talk to someone who's an air traffic controller. I want to have them have the opportunity to talk someone who is a mechanic.

Terria Garner: I love that you meet the kids where they are and in plain language to say like, you can do this. This is the way you do it and this is how you can meet that goal.

Migdalia Gonzalez: There was a young man at the University of Texas who we're talking to, and he kept coming back to all the different schools I was speaking at, at the campus. And he kept asking me, and then he just broke out crying and all he kept saying was, you don't understand what you've done for me. You don't understand how I never thought I was going to be able to find a job that I was going to help other people. You just don't know what these kids are going through. You don't. I'm all about cheering them on because there's nothing better than that.

Lucy Jabbour: When you're talking about sort of like awareness and that being a piece of actually creating the pathway for a lot of people is that they just don't know about programs and opportunities. Migdalia, do you ever talk to the students about like, the minority serving institutions internship program?   Because I think we've actually run into quite a few people at the FAA now and it's like, oh, surprise, that's actually how I ended up with a job here was I came up through that system.

Migdalia Gonzalez: And the talent is real, like. We have a young lady that I met at a university in Puerto Rico. She did everything I told her about her resume. She got accepted into the program, into the MSI program and I didn't know she made it. And I went to Puerto Rico for another career fair. And she came because she wanted to thank me. That, to me is like the end all be all. Because when I give out this information regarding writing a resume, at the end of the day if you come into the entire federal government, I’m good. Like that’s helping all of us to get better.

Terria Garner: What advice would you give to those interested in aerospace?

Migdalia Gonzalez: Don't ever take no for an answer. The opportunities are endless, whether it's business administration, whether it's finance, whether you want to be a pilot, whether you want to be an air traffic controller. How about an inspector, right? There's all of these opportunities available. Don't ever give up. You know, Todo es posible. Everything is possible.  

Minority Serving Institutions PSA: Are you a college student interested in a career in aerospace? The FAA’s Minority Serving Institutions Internship Program is a great opportunity to meet professionals in the field and gain exciting on-the-job experience. Plus, it’s a paid internship that could potentially result in a full-time position after completing the program! So, for more information on eligibility and how to apply, go to and search MSI.

Lucy Jabbour: Thanks for listening! For more information about today’s guest, check out Subscribe, like, follow wherever you get your podcasts. This episode ends the first half of Season 6, but we’ll be back with new episodes this Spring. To be the first to know about new episodes, subscribe to our newsletter at Plus, you can follow the FAA on social media. And if you like what you’re hearing this Season, please leave us a review. A big thank you to the FAA podcast team working behind the scenes and thank YOU for supporting the FAA’s ‘The Air Up There’ podcast!