Among the thousands receiving A-level results on Thursday was ARK Putney Academy student Aisha Abdulsalam, who is set to be the world’s first Kurdish female Pilot.
After achieving A-levels in Maths and Art & Design, she has gained a place to study Aviation Pilot Studies at Buckinghamshire New University.
Aviation has always been a dream of Aisha’s, inspired by her uncle, a pilot. "He used to tell me about planes and how fun it was," she explained.
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However, it was joining the Air Cadets which made Aisha decide to turn her dream into a reality. “I started flying solo and then I felt the thrill of it and I was like, ‘that’s it. I want to be a pilot’. That’s the day that I was definitely one hundred percent sure what I wanted to do.”
Becoming a pilot is a big deal for Aisha. “In my country as well as in Iraq, there are no women pilots. So if I do become a pilot, I will be the first Kurdish woman to become a pilot.”
Marshall Wace has awarded Aisha a £3,000 bursary to support her studies, a fund which she appreciates greatly.
“It means a lot because I live in a council flat. Money doesn’t come easy as my mum doesn’t work. I wouldn’t know where else to get a loan from, and I know that if I get this bursary I don’t need to pay it back when I’m older. It’s really beneficial for me.”
Aisha’s dreams do not end with becoming a pilot, however. “I don’t want to stop there. I want to retire early and then organise my own charity.”
The charity she envisions would provide support to families and carers of those suffering from terminal illnesses, a topic close to her heart.
Last year, on top of juggling her A-levels, Aisha was caring for her mum who was diagnosed with cancer. “I would like people to be helped out so that the person can be looked after while they go and do whatever they want to do.”
Aisha understands the importance of her education in realising her dream: "Education is your oyster. It takes you where you want to go. If you apply yourself to whatever you want to do and in your education then it will always be behind you one hundred percent.”