Ian Tewksbury has been flying high since he first touched down on the RIT campus.
He has been an orientation assistant. He has studied abroad. He has taken part in three co-ops. And he has earned a 3.5 grade-point average.
“I love RIT. I love everything about it—the people, the atmosphere, the professors and the classes,” says Tewksbury, a computer science major who is scheduled to graduate in May.
What Tewksbury may love more, however, is what he does high above campus.
Tewksbury has had a passion for flying since he was a child. His father, Cleyton Tewksbury, had his fixed-wing pilot’s license and took his son for rides. Several years ago, Tewksbury sat down to compile a list of short-term goals he hoped to accomplish. Two items rose to the top of the list—obtaining a sky-diving license and a helicopter pilot’s license.
“Some people dream of wanting to fly,” Tewksbury says. “I’ve dreamt of wanting to fly, then I went and did it.”
Tewksbury’s flight pattern began in the lobby of the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, where he spotted an IBM representative collecting résumés for co-op positions. He found the nearest lab and printed out a résumé. He interviewed the next day and was offered a position on the spot.
In summer 2007, Tewksbury traveled to Raleigh, N.C., to co-op for IBM as a software developer. In his spare time, he accomplished goal number one: earning his sky-diving license.
After two quarters of co-op, Tewksbury returned to the Henrietta campus before heading to Croatia to study at the American College of Management and Technology.
“I loved Croatia. It was one of the best quarters I had at RIT and I wasn’t even on campus,” Tewksbury says. “It’s so beautiful there. I went to the market every day and bought fresh food. I’d sit outside and sip coffee on the sea. And, of course, I attended classes and did my homework.”
From Dubrovnik, it was back to Raleigh and another stint at IBM. But, just as importantly to Tewksbury, it was time to pursue goal number two.
On top of his full-time work schedule, Tewksbury spent 15 hours a week at the North Carolina Rotor and Wing aviation school, plus countless hours at home studying various regulations. Twelve weeks later, Tewksbury had his helicopter pilot’s license.
“Of all the things to learn to fly, a helicopter is the hardest,” Tewksbury says. “It wasn’t easy, but it was fun.”
With graduation looming on Tewksbury’s horizon, he has accepted a job offer from IBM. He hopes to return to North Carolina where he can take flight as often as possible.
“I can’t explain what it’s like to fly, but if anyone has ever had the dream, urge or even an inkling to fly, then I would encourage them with all the enthusiasm that I can muster to just go do it,” Tewksbury says. “You can never truly understand freedom until even gravity appears to have no control over you.”