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Wall of Honor Level: Air and Space Leader
The Dreams Soar Team
Shaesta Waiz is a commercial pilot and the founder of Dreams Soar, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring the next generation of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and aviation professionals. For their first program, Shaesta flew around the world solo in a Beechcraft Bonanza A36 aircraft on a Global Flight for STEM, a 145-day mission that included flying to 30 locations in 20 countries across five continents. Dreams Soar held a total of 32 outreach events where Shaesta inspired over 3,000 children and young adults to work hard and never give up on their dreams. The Global Flight concluded on October 4, 2017, with Shaesta’s return to Daytona Beach International Airport in Florida. With this journey, she became the youngest woman, at the age of 30, to circumnavigate the globe solo in a single-engine aircraft.
Born in a refugee camp in Afghanistan, Shaesta and her family traveled to America in 1987 to escape the Soviet-Afghan war. One of six sisters, Shaesta grew up in Richmond, California and attended school in an underprivileged district, not thinking that she had any future beyond raising a family. Her passion for aviation stemmed from her first airplane ride on a Delta flight from California to Florida at the age of 17. That experience proved to be life-changing for Shaesta, as she fell in love with aviation and realized she could become a professional pilot.
After a long journey of pursuing a college education at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where she earned both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree (the first in her family to do so), Shaesta obtained her commercial pilot rating and became the first certified civilian female pilot from Afghanistan. While at Embry-Riddle, she started the Women’s Ambassador Program, an initiative that mentors and supports young women pursuing aviation and engineering degrees. In less than three years, under Shaesta’s leadership, the program helped increase female enrollment from 13 to 22 percent. In 2014, Shaesta started Dreams Soar to share her story with girls and young women around the world, to let them know it is possible to achieve their dreams, regardless of the challenges and traditions they may face.
All of us on the Dreams Soar team are very proud to honor Shaesta by having her name on the Wall of Honor along with Jerrie Mock, her mentor and inspiration.
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