Boeing Scholar Pursues Childhood Dream
Daytona Beach student Shaddi Abdala recalls boarding a plane for the first time when her family moved from Colombia to the United States. Now, this aspiring female aviator is finding her own seat in the cockpit.
Born in Bogota, Colombia, Aeronautical Science major Shaddi Abdala (‘21) grew up in South Florida from the age of 6. She is the first in her family to pursue an education in aviation and the first to attend college in the U.S., thanks to the Boeing Scholars Program.
Having always been fascinated by flight, Abdala has childhood memories of attending the Blue Angels and Thunderbird air shows and watching the skies from the airport with her family. These shared moments with loved ones ignited her passion for aviation.
When Abdala came across Embry-Riddle in her college search, she was drawn to the Florida Campus for its location and professional flight training program. Though it posed a financial challenge, Abdala was determined and committed herself to applying to every scholarship she could. She was selected as a Boeing Scholar and enrolled in her first semester in 2019.
“Being a Boeing Scholar gave me the opportunity to attend Embry-Riddle without the financial burden on my family,” she said.
Since beginning her Embry-Riddle journey, Abdala has earned her commercial pilot certification and multi-engine add-on. Courses she has particularly enjoyed include Flight Physiology (AS357) and Aviation Safety (AS408). She is even conducting a case study on the human factors that led to the Southwest Airlines Flight 1248 accident, which ran off the runway at Chicago’s Midway Airport in 2005 and killed one person.
When she’s not in the sky, Abdala is heavily involved in the campus community. She is a member of the Student Government Association, Latino Pilot Association and the Dance Marathon Executive Board. Also affiliated with the Women’s Ambassador Program, the Empowering Latina Leader Aviators Subcommittee (ELLAS) and Women in Aviation, Abdala strives to inspire and advocate for other young women pursuing careers as pilots.
“My goal is to always inspire and share my knowledge with those around me to grow the aviation community,” she said.
Being a Boeing Scholar has allowed Abdala to connect with fellow scholarship recipients and industry leaders, and she is especially thankful for the opportunity to represent both the Hispanic and female communities through the program.
An avid learner, she is motivated by the reminder that there is always more knowledge and training ahead. Having completed her flight training, Abdala now has her sights set on building her hours while teaching future pilots as a Certified Flight Instructor at Embry-Riddle. She hopes to eventually fly for an airline that shares her values and grow as a female aviator.