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Students at Dallas' Paul Quinn College will fly free on Southwest Airlines

IMG_0485.JPG African-American man, in suit, tie, wearing glasses, in front of lectern, gesturing with right hand while holding microphone in right hand. Behind him are balloons and and wallpaper patterned with 'Southwest' stamped on it
Bill Zeeble
Michael Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College, speaks at Southwest Airlines headquarters on Monday. As Southwest becomes the "official" airline of Dallas' historically Black college, it'll fly 150 free roundtrips for teams and students and launch an internship program.

Dallas' only historically Black Paul Quinn College is partnering with Dallas' only major airline, Southwest. The relationship will mean $60,000 worth of free flights for Paul Quinn students and sports teams, along with coveted internships for students.

Paul Quinn College, a Historically Black College and University - also the nation’s only urban work college - has long pursued business relationships for students. President Michael Sorrell says his school and Southwest Airlines will be a great fit.

“They are supportive of the work program," Sorrell said Monday at Southwest Airlines headquarters. “They’re supportive of expanding the opportunities that students have, and these conversations began in earnest, when we went to them last spring, when our men's basketball team was playing in the national tournament.”

That’s when Southwest offered free flights for Paul Quinn’s Tigers. They went on win their division and national championship in the USCAA, the United Small College Athletic Association.

As Paul Quinn’s "official" airline, Southwest says it will provide 150 free roundtrip flights a year, valued at $400 a trip. Southwest Airlines also plans to offer up to three students paid internships starting this spring, with plans to add more as the relationship grows.

Paul Quinn Communications sophomore Ericka Drinker appreciates the benefits of such a program.

“I actually had the opportunity as a freshman to get a corporate internship (with Capital One), and that’s usually not the case,” said Drinker.

IMG_0458.JPG  Young woman in white jacket over beige and rust colored dress talking to someone in a room of people, with jet models hanging from the ceiling.
Bill Zeeble
Ericka Drinker's a communications sophomore at historically Black Paul Quinn College. She's excited for fellow 'Quinnites" who'll now have a shot at interning at Southwest, the school's 'official' airline. Drinker has already benefitted from several internships through Paul Quinn, the nation's only urban work college.

Now, some fellow students will have the chance to learn and benefit from Southwest Airlines as interns with the carrier.

Got a tip? Email Reporter Bill Zeeble at You can follow him on Twitter @bzeeble.

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Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.