Friday, February 5, 2010
As a professional speaker, aviator and female mentor, I am often asked to share my experiences with others on how they too can soar through life with confidence and find their true passion. So, when the Santa Barbara chapter of Girls, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold, approached me to share my passion and story on how I became one of America’s first female pilots hired, and one of the few still working, I jumped at the opportunity.
Girls Inc. has responded to the changing needs of girls through award-winning, innovative after-school and summer educational enrichment programs and through public education efforts that empower girls to understand, value, and assert their rights. You see, as a pilot career counselor, I see many mature beginner pilots who want to fulfill their heart’s desire and become a professional pilot. However, until recently, I have never had the chance to reach out to such a young audience, specifically eager, smart and strong girls. This was a thrill for me.
I thought I had accomplished a lot, but when I looked out in the audience of young, impressionable and oh so very honest faces, I realized how much I have yet to share. I spoke to a lively crowd of about 40 young girls from ages 5 to 12. They watched a brief video about what it takes to succeed as a female pilot in the aviation industry, as well as other careers available for females. Then I shared my experiences about my own challenges and successes as one of the first pioneering female pilots in the country. As I’ve discussed in my book “Flight Guide For Success”, women will continue encountering situations in the professional world where they must compete with a majority of men. I enjoyed giving the girls insight that would prepare them for such circumstances.
Girls Inc. is an incredible organization, and it was an immensely rewarding experience to share my advice with these amazing girls! They were adorable! I was surprised that a majority of them had already been on flights. After my talk, we gave the girls coloring books, pencils, and lightweight gliders (so they soar on their own!) donated by Tim Lawton and the generous folks at the Santa Barbara Airport.
Girls Incorporated is an inspirational organization, with chapters all around the country, which I encourage everybody to support! You can learn more at http://www.girlsincsb.org/.