Student

Robert Clato-Day “I like science and technology and flying. And, God willing, one day I will end up in space.”

“When I was three years old, back home in Jamaica, I used to watch the airplanes practice over my house,” recalls Robert Clato-Day. “The sounds they made, the way they moved in the air attracted me. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to get into the sky.” It has taken him some time, but Robert has kept his dream of flight alive at SMC. “I’ve been studying here, part time and evenings, since 1986,” says this Air Force reservist who spends a weekend every month with his military unit. “The difficult thing is finding suitable employment that’s compatible with school. The lack of money is always a distraction and it’s not good if it keeps you from concentrating on your books.”

As Robert has balanced full-time work, Air Force duties, and studying, he reports that SMC has the kind of flexibility that older working students often need. “Most colleges offer their best classes only in the day,” he says. “But SMC has allowed me to take a lot of sciences and math at night. And the computers are there for everybody to learn with.” The payoff, for Robert, of this flexibility is going to be his imminent transfer to Cal State Long Beach. “I’ll be studying aerospace engineering, working with new materials and radical designs. Possibly even working on space vehicles,” he says. But along the way, he’s also managed to pile up experience to help him realize his ultimate dream.

“I’ve got about 150 hours of flying time in different aircraft, and I’ll get my pilot’s license pretty soon,” says Robert. “I want to go all the way—commercial rating, jet, aerospace.” For Robert, the sky is limitless.

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.