The sky is not the limit.
At least not for the 100 teenage girls who came from all around the country this week to participate in the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Women Soar You Soar program, which introduces the young women to a variety of aviation and aerospace fields and the women who hold the jobs.
“This event really allows the girls to say, ‘Hey, I can do this,”” said Brianna Obright, who serves as the event coordinator and manager from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Office of Continuing Education and Outreach.
In its seventh year, Women Soar gives the participants a mentor to guide them through the four-day experience and then sets them free on both the AirVenture grounds and on the UW Oshkosh campus to learn about their futures and be inspired and empowered through various activities.
On Friday, July 29, breakout workshop sessions were held on campus that allowed girls to learn about female pilots in history, the engineering of a space suit, aviation career opportunities and more.
“I’m here to look for career opportunities,” said 16-year-old Zahra Khan, who traveled to Oshkosh from North Carolina for Women Soar. “I hoped this would help guide me to what I might like to do. I still haven’t figured it out, but I hope to.”
While on campus, the high school girls also have an opportunity to stay in the residence halls and utilize many of UW Oshkosh’s entities.
“Most of these girls don’t know each other, they stay with other girls they don’t know, so it’s sort of like a college experience for them,” said Obright.
Nicole Allison, 17, of Georgia, said she’s attending Women Soar because she wants to make connections and learn about the opportunities out there for women.
“We are kind of the only girls in our high school who are interested in aviation, so it’s nice to be around other girls who are interested,” Allison said.
An aerospace engineer who was born and raised in Kaukauna but now lives in California, Jessica Forster, one of this year’s mentors, said she volunteers for Women Soar to show girls that dreams can come true. She “caught the aviation bug” when she started attending AirVenture as a child with her dad who has a private pilot’s license and is an engineer.
“As one of the younger mentors, it’s also great to meet the other mentors,” Foster said.
The mentors at this year’s Women Soar hold jobs ranging from pilots to flight instructors, space shuttle engineers, air traffic controllers and more.
“It’s just such a great opportunity to get to work with these girls,” Foster said.