Helping Dreams Soar: Outreach is EVERYTHING!

by Jill Meyers

As I mentioned in my introductory segment last week, one of my roles for Dreams Soar is to oversee the planning of our Outreach events all over the world. Each location is different depending on how long Shaesta will be there, how much support we get from the local community, and what kind of STEM activities already exist in the schools and local aviation organizations. I have support from several different groups of people to plan and execute these Outreach events and I couldn’t do this without them.

First and foremost is our own Dream Team, an amazing group of talented and passionate college students (and recent graduates) who are the heart and soul of our organization! Several members of the Dream Team are assigned to help with Outreach planning. Dreams Soar also has strong support from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as part of their Next Generation of Aviation Professionals (NGAP) program. I am able to collaborate directly with ICAO’s delegates at the headquarters in Montréal, Canada, and they connect me with their local Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) representatives at every international stop.

Part of The Dream Team. (Photo: Dreams Soar)

Part of The Dream Team. (Photo: Dreams Soar)

Madrid is a good example of Outreach planning at its best. The first Skype call had me and Dream Team member Jessica talking with Jose Ramón and Pedro from the Spanish CAA office. They had not planned anything like this before and wanted our inputs and ideas, so Jessica and I talked about Dreams Soar’s vision to inspire kids to pursue STEM education and aviation careers. We gave them a few ideas of types of events they could hold, and they agreed to do some research. Very soon they added Almudena to their team, an energetic young woman in her first job at the CAA, who is very passionate about our mission! After several weeks of collaboration, we had seven events planned over the course of three days!

Shaesta met with over 40 kids at the Madrid Air Museum, sharing her story with them and talking about aviation. She participated in a forum with Aviation Management Degree students and women from the Gender Equality Unit at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Shaesta met with Spain’s Director General of Civil Aviation and also spoke with the “Balance for AESA” team, a group chartered to empower the role of women in aviation in Spain. She met with a group of young student pilots at Madrid’s Cuatro Vientos Airport, where our Bonanza aircraft was hangered, and also spent time with members of Aviadoras, a group of women pilots from the Spanish Pilot Association. Shaesta also visited the Escuelas Aguirre School in Madrid, the only bilingual elementary school in the city. And finally, she was interviewed by Fomento magazine and the Spanish Guild of Commercial Aviation Pilots’ magazine, as media interviews are also a big part of our Outreach program. As you can imagine, a great deal of planning went into this Madrid stop! All of our Outreach stops are not this complex, but they are equally important and powerful in our efforts to inspire the next generation of STEM and aviation professionals!

Shaesta takes a selfie with kids at the Madrid Air Museum. (Photo: Dreams Soar)

Shaesta takes a selfie with kids at the Madrid Air Museum. (Photo: Dreams Soar)

Learn more about Dreams Soar on their website!