Edited by Yara Alsayes
Sarah El Sanhory is an 18 year old young lady who recently graduated from high school, and decided to immediately chase her dreams! Sara did what many women wish to do, but fear doing; she pursued her lifelong childhood dream of becoming a pilot. She went against norms and stereotypes, and now she is on her way to reach that goal of hers. She is now studying at Misr Flying College. We spoke to Sara so we can learn all about her exciting new journey.
When did you realize you wanted to be a pilot?
My father is a pilot as was my grandfather before him. I loved how my dad travels around the world experiencing new things and always wanted to do the same. I was 15 exactly when I decided that I wanted to be a pilot.
“After I did all what my parents asked for, I told them now it’s time for you to take me to get my medical test so I can apply at the academy”
What was your family’s reaction?
My parents were against the idea at first. They pressured me into having a plan B. I couldn’t find myself anywhere else. After I did all what my parents asked for, I told them now it’s time for you to take me to get my medical test so I can apply at the academy. After a while my parents gave in and they’ve been very supportive ever since.
What changed your parents’ minds?
It was an amazing coincidence; my dad’s lady colleague was here for a visit. She reassured my parents by telling them how many young women do this. She told them that her daughter is a pilot and is apparently perfectly happy.
“Her friends all kept telling her how will a guy ever marry a girl who earns more than he does”
Were there any discouragements, or have reactions been positive so far?
Yes. Mom’s discouragement came out of fear and influence from her friends. Her friends all kept telling her how will a guy ever marry a girl who earns more than he does and is traveling the world every few days? The idea troubled my mom for a while but I talked to her. I will marry who God has destined for me.
“One challenge I faced is when I went to buy my uniform and every single shop I went into was like “what? You want the outfit for her?””
Being a woman, were there challenges and will there be future ones in your opinion?
One challenge I faced is when I went to buy my uniform and every single shop I went into was like “what? You want the outfit for her?” Another challenge is that some of my colleagues are just in for the fun so all they care about is meeting girls and I knew that if I’d given them permission to cross the line, my reputation would be affected. I drew a red line and now they respect me. The third challenge is about getting a job, I don’t think the challenges I face will be related to me being a woman; Egypt Air already hires women, so anything from then on will be a pilot related challenge.
In a male dominated industry, how do you believe women can excel?
I believe women can excel at anything if they believe in themselves enough. As long as they don’t let society get into their heads and control their lives.
What are the reactions of your male colleagues?
My schoolmates all said I was crazy and that I was throwing my life away. As for my colleagues at the academy, when I first got there, everyone stared at me and kept whispering; no one said anything but their eyes said it all.
“You are stronger than you seem and braver than you think”
What is the best thing about this line of work, and what’s the worst?
The first great thing is being able to travel the world. The second thing is that there are always people traveling to get to hospitals, for education or to be reunited with loved ones. I love the fact that I will take a hand in helping those people get closer to their goals. The worst thing about it is the responsibility. It’s very stressful knowing that I am responsible for hundreds of lives.
Do you have any word of advice to young women who would like to pursue the same dream?
You are stronger than you seem and braver than you think. I want you to never give up, because this world is full of negativity and people will always want to bring you down so never give them the satisfaction of seeing you fall. Anything can happen if you want it to, especially if you’re a woman. Trust me; you can make it!