Shaesta Waiz, the youngest woman to fly solo around the world in a single-engine aircraft, shared her inspiring story with Poly High School students in the school auditorium this week. Waiz is the founder of Dreams Soar, Inc., a nonprofit organization devoted to encouraging the next generation to become passionate about aviation and other science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related careers.
Waiz was born in a refugee camp. She traveled with her family from Afghanistan to America in 1987 to escape the Soviet-Afghan war. She grew up with her parents and five sisters in Richmond, CA.
“I believed my future consisted of getting married at a young age and starting a big family,” she said. “It wasn’t until I found aviation that I started thinking about having a career and going to college.”
Waiz became the first person in her family to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees — both from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She was the first female certified civilian pilot from Afghanistan. Then she flew 25,000 nautical miles across five continents, crossing three oceans and visiting 22 different countries. She completed her worldwide trip last October, reaching more than 3,000 students at 32 outreach events in 14 countries.
Learn more at dreamssoar.org.