Deciding on a career path took some time. But once Sadaf Imani discovered her passion, she found her purpose and the sky was the limit.
Imani graduated from OU Extended Campus earlier this month with a Bachelor of Science in Aviation. She was given the honor of Spring 2018 Banner Carrier, leading OU Extended Campus students in the convocation processional May 12.
While going to college was never a question, figuring out what to do afterward didn’t come so easily.
Imani spent the first decade of her life living in Iran. When she was 11 years old, her family immigrated to the United States where her parents hoped to give Imani and her sister a life with more opportunities. The transition wasn’t easy, but she was always encouraged to do her best in school.
As high school came to an end, Imani still wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life. She did know one thing—giving up on higher education wasn’t an option.
“Before applying to college, I knew that I didn’t want to earn a living doing a 9 to 5 job. I wanted to do something hands-on, exciting and challenging at the same time.”
“Going to college was the next step after high school, not only because of encouragement from my grandfather and parents, but because I was eager to learn and wanted to mold myself into the person I imagined myself to be in the future,” she said. “Before applying to college, I knew that I didn’t want to earn a living doing a 9 to 5 job. I wanted to do something hands-on, exciting and challenging at the same time.”
When considering possible career paths, Imani often thought back to her life in Iran and the frequent airplane trips she took with her family. Trips across the region to places like Dubai were the source of some of her favorite childhood memories.
“I’ve always had a fascination with flight and loved traveling by airplane, so a combination of that and support from my parents made me realize aviation as a career could be possible for me,” she said. “Being a female, becoming a professional pilot was not something that came to my mind immediately, but after some research, I realized that this was what I wanted to do for a living.”
Once settled into her aviation degree program, Imani excelled. She earned several scholarships during her four years with OU Extended Campus, including the American Airlines $5,000 Educational Scholarship. She also participated in an internship with American Airlines, where she hopes to work one day.
Imani said being able to fly from the first day of class sparked an excitement that never went away. Now a certified flight instructor, Imani tries to pass that passion on to her own students.
“The joy and excitement I felt every time I flew only grew over time,” she said. “I’m privileged to be able to teach my students everything I know about flying.”
Imani said she’s grown over the past four years, accomplishing more than she ever imagined. She was able to network, build a community in the aviation field and find her own place. Much of that is owed to her parents, she said.
“I truly would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for their sacrifices and hard work. Immigrating to the United States and starting from the bottom to build a life for our family was an enormously difficult task, and I’m so thankful for my parents for sacrificing their comfortable lifestyle in Iran to help my sister and I build a better future for ourselves,” she said. “Many doors of opportunity have opened for me, and I’ve been fortunate enough to take advantage of them. I definitely feel ready for the next step in my life and look forward to what the future will bring.”