2017 Alumni Hall of Distinction Honoree
Captain Barrington Irving was inducted into the Broward College Alumni Hall of Distinction on during a ceremony commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Emil Buehler Aviation Institute on Tuesday, November 14, 2017, on the Judson A. Samuels South Campus in Pembroke Pines.
Since 1983, Broward College has recognized alumni who have made outstanding contributions in the professional, civic, public and philanthropic arenas and have demonstrated how their lives have been enriched by their educational experiences at the institution. The men and women who have been inducted into the Broward College Hall of Distinction include members of the legal and medical professions, performing artists and scientists, financial advisors and officers of the law, educators, elected officials, writers and civic activists.
What these diverse individuals have in common is an educational foundation that began at Broward College.
Captain Irving was selected as a distinguished alumnus for many reasons, including setting two Guinness World Records when he became both the youngest and the first black pilot to fly solo around the world.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, and brought up in inner-city Miami, Irving was surrounded by crime, poverty and failing schools, but he beat the odds to make his historic flight at the age of 23. He was inspired to pursue aviation at age 15 when a Jamaican airline pilot offered to mentor him. He rejected college football scholarships to pursue a career in STEM and never looked back. He began taking courses at Broward College in 2002 and worked toward an Associate of Science degree in the Professional Pilot program. He graduated magna cum laude from Florida Memorial University’s aeronautical science program.
He has traveled to 50 countries, conducted more than 30 STEM expeditions, and successfully challenged middle school students to build a car faster than a Ferrari 430 and then high schoolers to build a plane he flew on its test flight. He has a passion to explore, inspire, and educate others. He developed a Flying Classroom curriculum to improve the way students learn STEM: in following his global expeditions, they engage in problem-solving activities that enable them to overcome new challenges.
Before founding the Flying Classroom, he created a nonprofit, Experience Aviation, which offers hands-on, STEM-based programs and career guidance to middle and high school students in Florida, Texas, and Georgia. He was the recipient of a Congressional Resolution acknowledging his pioneering work in aviation education.
He was the keynote speaker at Broward College’s Spring 2010 graduation ceremony and he was the keynote speaker at the inaugural American Dream Summit.
Captain Irving is also a philanthropic individual, having recently created a named American Dream Scholarship to benefit Broward College students.
During the ceremony, representatives of the aviation industry, aviation faculty and students, previous inductees in the Alumni Hall of Distinction, and major donors to the College gave Captain Irving a standing ovation when his name was announced. Irving was visibly moved by the honor of being named a distinguished alumnus. His story of having risen from a young man whose only dress shoes had three holes in the soles to someone who, through scholarship support, was able to give back to a new generation of students was truly inspiring.
President Armstrong and guests touring the Emil Buehler Aviation Institute
Broward College Foundation Board of Directors Chair Pam Stephany, Broward College Distinguished Alumnus and member of the Broward College District Board of Trustees David Maymon, Captain Irving and President Armstrong
George Weaver accepting a collage of images of the Emil Buehler Aviation Institute from Nancy R. Botero, Broward College’s Vice President for Advancement and Executive Director of the Broward College Foundation
Rob Ceravolo, CEO of Tropic Ocean Air