Down the halls of Pittsburgh International Airport, TSA Master Security Training Instructor Tara Costlow is often greeted with a “Hey, Mom!” from her close colleagues. The affectionate nickname started after Tara’s daughter, Ivy Costlow, joined the TSA ranks this past year.
Like most recent high school graduates, Ivy was in the job market while deciding her path forward into adulthood.
“In our house, once you graduate high school, you either go to school or you go to work,” Tara said. “She was working at a restaurant with a breakfast buffet, and people would get very angry if there was no bacon. So, as you can imagine, she had people yelling at her because bacon took nine minutes to cook.”
Tara urged her daughter to apply for a TSA officer (TSO) position.
Around the country, TSA is acquiring more and more families into its ranks. The agency is a great place to start a career or make a professional change. Parents are seeing the opportunities available at TSA and recruiting the agency’s newest employees from their dining room tables.
Throughout Ivy’s life, her mom has been a comforting presence by her side or in the crowd during countless graduations, birthdays or school dances. On Ivy’s swearing-in day, Tara stood by her daughter’s side and pinned the new TSA emblems on Ivy’s lapels.
“My mom took off her badge and started poking holes in my shirt where the new epaulets would go,” Ivy said. “She said she was ‘just getting them ready.’ It almost felt like when moms help put on the boutonnieres for prom pictures.”
It was another major milestone they experienced together.
“At the airport, instead of Ivy being known as ‘Tara’s daughter,’ I'm known as Ivy’s mom,” laughed Tara.
The recent graduate is doing well balancing her TSO responsibilities and learning professional skills for the future.
“I get to see and hear a lot of different views and perspectives,” Ivy said. “I grew up in a really small town and didn't get a whole lot of exposure to things other than on the Internet. And this job brings a whole new perception of the world.”
For Tara and Ivy, the chance to work with each other means shared stories and morning car pools. On the days they work the same hours, the two make a pit stop to their favorite breakfast place.
“I love the fact that we can come together at the end of the day and share what we did at work,” Tara said. “If she's having an issue with passengers or if she's stressed, I can relate to her and be a sounding board. And same for her. If I have frustration with somebody, she can give me another aspect, because she sees a different side of their personality.”
College looms in Ivy’s future with her career aspirations drawing her to another service-based profession. She wants to continue helping others and plans to study American Sign Language and become an interpreter.
In the meantime, Ivy is enjoying her TSA career and the special moments she gets with her mom.
Kimberlyn Pepe, Strategic Communications & Public Affairs