NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – Ivana Page, the only female at Tennessee State University majoring in aeronautical and industrial technology, has decided to go where few women have had the opportunity to go… in search of a career in the cockpit of a major airliner.
In September 2010 Page, who grew up in Belleville, Ill., a small suburban town outside of St. Louis, Mo., visited the University for the first time as part of an HBCU tour group sponsored by Senator James Clayborne from her hometown. “When I got here I knew that TSU was the school for me because it just felt right in my spirit, I knew that I had a purpose to fulfill here,” said Page. “Although I was offered many scholarships from other universities I choose TSU because as soon as I stepped on the campus and got a ray of that ‘golden sunshine’ I knew that this was the place for me.”
Now in her sophomore year, Page selected the program in preparation to live out goals she sets with the encouragement of her mother. “My mother told me that I could do anything I put my mind to and I thought, why not shoot for the stars,” said Page. “I wanted to go as high as I could go, and I decided that the only way to do that was to touch the sky with the tip of an airplanes nose”, she added.
Page has charted a career course that women have had difficulty navigating, primarily because so few opportunities are afforded them. According to a 2011 news report from CNN, of the 53,000 members of the Air Line Pilots Association, which represents pilots at major and regional carriers in the United States and Canada, only about 5 percent are women. According to the International Society of Women Airline Pilots, only about 450 women worldwide are airline captains — pilots in command who supervise all the other crewmembers on a flight.
However, Page is optimistic about her future and the future enrollment of female students in the aeronautical programs at TSU. “If we continue to encourage and recruit females to try careers in this area I believe the numbers will increase”, said Page. “But it will not be done without a lot of hard work, inspiration, and reassurance from the college.”
Page’s long-term plans include graduate school, private and commercial pilot license with the ultimate goal of being a commercial pilot. But she also has plans to increase the number of women prepared for careers as pilots. “I want to open a flight school to encourage young girls, especially young minority girls to fly,” she said. “I would like to teach them that becoming a pilot is as good of a career choice as becoming a nurse and that they should be encouraged to look into the aeronautical and industrial technology sector when choosing a career.”
She has applied for scholarships, internships and fellowships with NASA and believes her career choice is the best. “You learn so much about the world around you when pursuing this career, it’s engineering in every form and you get bits of every discipline mechanical, computer, electrical, and even metrology”, she said. “It’s the best of all the STEM disciplines and you get the knowledge that you can say you will be doing something upon graduating that will be larger-than-life”.
Currently, Page is working towards her pilot’s license at the Scott Air Force Base Aero club.