By Poojil Tiwari
“Every time I open the door of an aircraft, I ask myself, ‘How did a girl with my background become so lucky?’ The truth is, anyone can be me.”
– Shaesta Waiz
No coming down!
Twenty-nine-year-old Shaesta Waiz was born in a refugee camp and travelled to the US in 1987 with her parents and five sisters to escape the Soviet-Afghan war. Today, she is on a mission around the world. She has planned a worldwide solo flight to promote women’s education and empowerment. She wishes to motivate fellow women to follow their dreams. Taking off from Daytona Beach, Florida, Waiz plans to cover approximately 25,000 nautical miles aboard a 2001 Beechcraft Bonaza A36 Aircraft. Her 90-day solo trip will have her covering more than 34 destinations over 5 continents including the countries India, Egypt, Australia, Singapore and Spain before ending the trip back in Florida.
Who is Shaesta Waiz?
A graduate of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Shaesta Waiz started the university’s women ambassador program to mentor and support young women pursuing aviation and engineering. She is the first member of her family to earn a bachelor and a masters degree. Today, she carries the distinction of being the first certified civilian female pilot from Afghanistan. Growing up as a refugee in an underprivileged area of Richmond, California, she says that growing up she always thought she would be forced to marry at a young age and settle down. “It wasn’t until I found aviation that I started thinking about having a career and going to college”, she commented on the Dreams Soar website.
The ‘Dreams Soar’ mission
Founded by Shaesta Waiz, Dreams Soar is a not for profit organisation that aims at the mobilisation of women education within the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) field. Backed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), Dreams Soar is organising interactive sessions with Waiz at her thirty stopovers. These sessions are aimed at getting children, especially girls, interested in science and aviation at an early age.
Last week, her solo journey took her to her homeland Kabul, Afghanistan. Interacting with over 200 schoolgirls at a UNDP event, she expressed her pride at the dedication and courage of the Afghan people and implored them to educate themselves in whatever way they can. She also voiced her desire to come back to the country in a few years. Through Dreams Soar, she plans on opening a flight school in Afghanistan in the coming years in order to enable women to experience aviation in the country.
“I come from Afghanistan, where aviation is not encouraged to women, and I was able to make it,” said Waiz. “If I can do it I know women around the world can do it as well.” According to ICAO, only 3% of the world’s pilots are female. Shaesta Waiz intends to change that.
Featured Image Source: Pixabay
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