55 students from 13 historically Black colleges and universities were selected to attend Delta’s global headquarters in Atlanta from Oct. 18-19 for a two-day experience, “From the Yard to Delta Boulevard,” where they were immersed in the Delta culture through their participation in HBCU alumni panels, leadership fire side chats, networking meals, a tailgate experience, and guided tours of the Technical Operations facility and the Delta Flight Museum.
To wrap the highly competitive program, students had the opportunity to interview for summer 2024 jobs in a variety of business units including sales, IT, flight operations and more.
“There is something about coming through those Delta gates that fills my cup… and it’s that Delta Difference that I wanted these students to feel and experience through this immersive event,” said Shantra Laye, Manager of Students and Early Careers. “That’s why, over two days, we were very intentional about exposing these future leaders to Delta’s culture, values, business model and career pathways.”
As part of Delta’s work to reimagine its recruiting strategy and better reflect the diversity of the world it serves, the airline prioritizes partnerships with organizations, including HBCUs in Atlanta and beyond, that help build a diverse pipeline of top talent that may have historically been left behind.
The students represented Alabama State University, Clark Atlanta University, Delaware State University, Florida A&M University, Hampton University, Howard University, Jackson State University, Morehouse College, Morris Brown College, North Carolina A&T, Spelman College, Texas Southern University and Tuskegee University.
“This unique experience was a powerful reminder of the strong presence and influence of HBCU professionals in the Delta family,” said Jaiden Howard, a Florida A&M University student, in a LinkedIn post. “I’m left reflecting on the rich tapestry of connections and opportunities available when companies like Delta Air Lines commit to inclusivity and celebration of culture.”
Throughout the event, students had the opportunity to conduct a Q&A session with current Delta interns and co-ops, hear from active members of BOLD (Delta’s Black Business Resource Group), and engage with a host of leaders via panel discussions and fireside chats, including:
- “The Delta Difference" panel discussion with Amelia Deluca, V.P. and Chief Sustainability Officer; Quinnie Jenkins, Director of Community Engagement; and Krista Hicks, Manager of Total Rewards (Clark Atlanta alumna).
- “Reach as we Climb: Black Leaders of Delta Air Lines” panel discussion with Charisse Evans, V.P. of Airport Operations Field Support; Shawn Cole, V.P. of Global Sales (North Carolina A&T alumnus); Nicole Jones, Managing Director of Global Sales (Spelman alumna); and Maya Dukes, Managing Director of Window Seat.
- Fireside Chat with Dwight James, S.V.P. of Loyalty and CEO Delta Vacations (Morehouse alumnus) – moderated by Keyra Lynn Johnson, V.P. and Chief DEI Officer.
“The level of engagement from employees and leaders across the business for this event hosted by Delta’s Students and Early Careers team truly represents how DEI is a mindset that has been embedded throughout the company,” said Johnson. “We cannot disrupt systems in a vacuum, and it’s events like this that make it clear that, at Delta, we don’t have to.”
Delta’s Commitment to HBCUs
Delta has engaged more HBCUs in our recruitment efforts through the development of partnerships with organizations like United Negro College Fund. Delta's partnership with UNCF is decades deep and goes hand in hand with our long-time commitments to advancing equity and educational opportunity for all.
In 2022, Delta announced a $2 million grant for Spelman College’s Center for Innovation & the Arts, helping fund the integration of the arts into its STEM education programs for women. Additionally, Delta funds scholarships at Clark Atlanta, Morehouse College and Morehouse School of Medicine – and financially supports 10 HBCUs through Community Engagement and Talent Acquisition business units, including Spelman, Morehouse, Clark Atlanta, Hampton, Howard, Florida A&M, Tuskegee, Florida Memorial, and North Carolina A&T and Tennessee State University.
Delta also brought Hampton University aboard the Propel Collegiate Pilot Career Path Program in 2022, the airline's first such partnership with an HBCU. Elizabeth City State University became the second HBCU to join Delta's Propel Collegiate Pilot Career Path Program in February of this year. As the airline works to better reflect the diversity of the world it serves, this partnership helps broaden the diversity of our talent pipeline and underscores the significant legacy that Black communities have contributed to the aviation industry.