American Samoa rolled out the welcome mat Friday for a female pilot, Shaesta Waiz, who’s on a mission to promote the importance of STEM education: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Waiz was born in a refugee camp in Afghanistan but traveled to the United States with her family in 1987 to escape the Soviet Afghan War.
She grew up with her parents and five sisters in Richmond, California.
Waiz writes on her website Dreams Soar, “We lived in an underprivileged school district where substitute teachers, sharing textbooks with classmates, and watching friends drop out of high school was the norm.”
After a long journey of pursuing an education in a non-traditional field, she became the first certified civilian female pilot from Afghanistan and the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree — both from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
At Embry-Riddle, she also started the Women’s Ambassador Program — an initiative that seeks to mentor and support young women pursuing an education in aviation and engineering — then sought to advance her efforts to a global scale.
Waiz started Dreams Soar to share her story with women around the world, to let them know it is possible to achieve their dreams, regardless of the challenges and traditions they face.
Pago Pago International Airport was chosen as a refueling stop for her trip around the world for her Dreams Soar mission.
The aim of her world wide flight is to partner with strong female role models at the 28 stops along the route and together, share and promote the importance of STEM education.
The American Samoa Visitors Bureau welcomed Waiz upon arrival Friday afternoon and hosted her at the Tradewinds Hotel.
She was supposed to leave yesterday however the windy weather postponed her departure until this morning.
Executive Director of the ASVB, David Vaeafe, said the 30 year old pilot was taken by the friendliness of the people.
She was able to get in a bit of shopping and enjoy some of the sights on Tutuila island.