Kegan, a man with dark skin tone, wears a graduation cap and gown, a blue and yellow sash, and white cords. Kegan, a man with dark skin tone, wears a graduation cap and gown, a blue and yellow sash, and white cords.
Kegan Martindale-Hernandez, shown here in cap and gown, celebrates earning his B.S. in Aeronautics during a Worldwide Campus graduation ceremony.

Dual Enrollment Paves the Way to Three Embry‑Riddle Degrees for Aspiring Eagle Pilot

Story by Jon O'Neill
Jon O'Neill

Thanks to Embry‑Riddle’s Dual Enrollment program, Kegan Martindale-Hernandez is already well on his way to a Master of Space Operations degree. ↖ This heading is for screen readers and wont be visible on the page.

Thanks to Embry‑Riddle’s Dual Enrollment program, Kegan Martindale-Hernandez is already well on his way to a Master of Space Operations degree.

With a combination of dedication, determination and Dual Enrollment, Kegan Martindale-Hernandez (’20, ’22, ’24) earned his first degree from Embry‑Riddle Aeronautical University a month before he graduated high school.

Kegan has made the most of his head start by also earning a B.S. in Aeronautics and is now in hot pursuit of his Master of Space Operations degree. On top of all that, he is a licensed pilot and published author of a children’s book about the joys of flying.

Not bad for a 21-year-old.

“Dual enrollment gave me a head start by allowing me to excel and embrace more challenges,” Kegan said. “Completing my Dual Enrollment in high school also helped offset the cost of having to pay a full four-year tuition.”

Born in Connecticut to parents who were both businesses owners in the Caribbean, Kegan also lived in New York but moved to his present home in Georgia when he was 9. His interest in aviation and engineering started early.

“As my mom says, I was about 2 when I started pairing my joystick to the television,” Kegan said. “I was always curious about how things were made and how they worked. My parents bought me my first LEGO blocks and I started creating planes, trains and boats with them. I still have those blocks in my special bin to this day.”

Sweet Flight!, by Blossom Martindale and Kegan "Keegs" Martindale-Hernandez

Passions Worth Writing About

As he got older, his interests expanded to include astronomy, meteorology and aircraft safety. He continued building things and eventually shared his love of aviation and aerospace with other kids through his first book, Sweet Flight!

The book, co-authored with his mom Blossom Martindale and published in 2022, is about a boy who falls in love with flying at age 5 and “the loving family who supports his dream.” It is aimed at inspiring young people to pursue their passions.

“My mom fostered the idea with me because she wanted me to capture my early moments on my first plane trip and explore how my creative mind and engineering brain worked together,” Kegan said. “I always wanted people to have a great flying experience, so we wrote about what I would have wanted for my family to fly comfortably in the skies.”

Being comfortable in the skies is something Kegan knows about, as he is an accomplished pilot who earned his private pilot ticket about a week before his 17th birthday, and he has made flying professionally among the top goals he’s planning to reach.

An Answer for High School Doldrums

With so much going on in his life, Kegan said he struggled a bit in high school and was feeling “bored” and “quite miserable” sitting in classes every day.

“I was becoming unfocused and detached from my education, causing me to not take any of it seriously enough and hindering my grades,” he said.

That prompted Kegan’s mother to enroll him in a program called Aviation Career Enrichment, founded in 1980 by Julius Alexander, a former Atlanta high school teacher, television newsman and publicist for Lockheed Martin.

That experience, in turn, led Kegan to discover summer learning programs at Embry‑Riddle and, finally, the Dual Enrollment option offered at Embry‑Riddle’s Worldwide Campus. It also introduced him to Samantha Miata, the assistant director of the program.

What is Dual Enrollment at Embry‑Riddle?

“My mother met Ms. Miata and they felt that college-level work and courses would be more stimulating and challenging,” Kegan said. “This changed my life for the better and I did well in my college courses. I am forever grateful to Ms. Miata for the help she gave to us, which has taken me through my bachelor's in Aeronautics and into my master’s in Space Operations.”

Help from Miata and her Embry‑Riddle colleagues wasn’t limited to making recommendations. While Dual Enrollment offers many advantages, it does require hard work and it isn’t always easy.

“Shifting my environment to a combination of in-person at school and a digital space had its challenges,” Kegan said. “I went to one class in the morning and went home to continue my work online. I eventually got used to balancing everything after my first few weeks as I was determined to get As or Bs. My sleep pattern changed because I was up later with my college courses and I had to also work diligently on Saturdays and Sundays to get my work done, which meant missing church on some Sundays.”

How Does Embry‑Riddle Help Dual Enrollment Students?

The devotion paid off big when Kegan collected his A.S. in Aeronautics in April 2020. Thanks in part to the restrictions of the pandemic, he transitioned right away to online learning at the Worldwide Campus – which was a renowned distance learning leader long before COVID hit.

“Ms. Miata was instrumental in helping me to decide to go that route which was also much more economical,” said Kegan, citing another key benefit of opting for online classes.

The Dual Enrollment experience had him well-prepared to start pursuing his bachelor’s degree at Worldwide, a process that was shortened because of the credits he had already amassed.

“Ms. Miata was again so very helpful in guiding me to a scholarship that paid for the remaining two years of my bachelor's degree through the Chancellor Award,” he said.

Today, with two degrees in hand and a third within reach, Kegan is excited to embark on the future he’s always dreamed about.

“The plan is to work as a commercial pilot and then to work in the commercial aerospace sector later on in my life, hopefully for NASA at Cape Canaveral or in Houston.”

Would Dual Enrollment Work for You?

For anyone considering Dual Enrollment at Embry‑Riddle, Kegan offers this advice:

“Just do it. The program is life-changing and can help so many families to save money. It also allows grad school to become an option much earlier than you anticipated and can help you land a more favorable position in your field much earlier in life. The way I see it, Dual Enrollment is a valuable head start.”

 Kegan also said he stuck with Embry‑Riddle because the school followed through on its promises and is preparing him well to pursue a fulfilling future.

“My time at Embry‑Riddle has been a very rewarding experience that made me feel challenged and more engaged in school. I had great learning experiences provided to me by my instructors and peers,” Kegan said. “I want to thank Ms. Miata and the other Dual Enrollment team members for assisting me throughout this life-changing and valuable opportunity. My family has always supported me, and I am so grateful to them. My dad is no longer alive, but I know he is proud of me. And I have promised to fly my mom and her friends to Italy in first class when I become a commercial pilot.”

What can we help you get ready for? Apply at Embry‑Riddle today and find out.

Can you picture yourself here?

We can. You'll fit right in.

Apply now!