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College of Information and Communications

  • Arlington Johnson

Alumni Spotlight: Arlington Johnson

Arlington Johnson graduated in 2020 with a degree in information science and a minor in applied computing. He is currently a flight instructor for Auburn University and will be a pilot for Envoy Air in the fall.  Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, Arlington said he always wanted to attend South Carolina.

Why did you select this major and how has it assisted you post-graduation?
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so the business school was what I originally applied for but realized I had very little interest in it after my freshman semester. I liked that my courses would revolve around research and with the basics of coding thrown in as well. It has helped me post-graduation to become a professional pilot since a degree is almost always a requirement.  

What was the most beneficial course that you took at U of SC? Why?
I think SLIS 410 Knowledge Management was the most useful class I took. It helped give me a better perspective of the professional world and thinking outside the box. I also enjoyed the class because it was not super strict or straight forward, our day to day always looked different. 

Who was your favorite professor and why?
I enjoyed most of my professors, but Dr. Freeburg, Dr. Lankes, and Dr. Lewis were my favorites.

What would you say to high school students or current college students to encourage them to major in information science?
I think that it is a perfect degree for a lot of people who might want to be involved in business but without having to focus only on insurance, finance, etc. I think it offers a much broader degree that can help you find the career you want without getting pigeonholed before you graduate. Another big plus was the small class sizes and the variety of the courses which I thoroughly enjoyed.

When did you begin flying? 
I have always wanted to be a pilot, so I first started taking flying lessons when I was 17. Unfortunately, I found myself getting motion sickness and stopped taking lessons. Later during my sophomore year of college at South Carolina I decided I was going to  power through and get my license. I started training in May and got my private license in June. I no longer get any sort of motion sickness probably because I’m more acclimated. My training continued during college, and I got the rest of my ratings after I graduated. Currently I am a flight instructor for Auburn University where I teach learners to become private, instrument, and commercially rated pilots. 

What attracted you to a career as a pilot? 
I have always had a fascination with flying, space, and anything with a motor. My father is a pilot for American Airlines and has been an inspiration for me throughout my life. The career is appealing on its own for several reasons, getting to travel, good pay, and never getting bored of work. 

How did your degree assist you with becoming a pilot?
My information science degree has been very beneficial because it has helped me become better at research. Being a pilot involves knowing and being able to recite lots of information and also involves being able to quickly locate information. It is important to be able to quickly access information that is held in manuals and checklists while flying to ensure a safe outcome of the flight. It is also necessary to be able to locate complex regulatory information and be able to follow federal rules. 

What campus activities were you involved in while being a student on campus?
I was not involved with too many activities on campus as I spent a lot of my weekends back home flying or working at Pearlz in the Vista. I was a Capstone Scholar which involved volunteering which I typically did at the Ronald McDonald House. I also was involved with several presentations for research I did during my information science courses. The research projects I mostly focused on were based in aviation. I studied topics like automation in aircraft as well as studying incidents like the Boeing 737 MAX crashes. I really enjoyed information science because it let me study the topics I enjoyed instead of just being assigned a topic I wasn’t passionate about.

What advice would you offer a student interested in following your path?
My advice to any aspiring pilots is to go get a discovery flight first. A discovery flight is just a short introductory lesson where you get to go up with a flight instructor and they will let you fly the plane (with help of course) for about 45 minutes. The reason I recommend this step is because small planes aren’t for everyone. A lot of people get up there and realize maybe aviation isn’t for them. If you end up loving it then you should pursue it, simple as that.

Other important considerations are keeping a good GPA, making sure you aren’t prescribed any disqualifying medicines like Adderall or Zyrtec, studying hard, and avoiding any check ride failures. Aviation is a field where you can’t do too much research. Being able to talk to a flight instructor or a mentor is also a necessity, it’s a complex field and they can help you navigate it. 

What is your favorite motto?
The three most worthless things in aviation are, runway behind you, altitude above you, and fuel left in the truck.

Favorite thing about UofSC?
Loved the students and culture of South Carolina.

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