My name is Sharif Na’eem-Musiddiq II, and I’m a senior in high school. This summer, I attended the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) Aerospace Career Education (ACE) Academy for the first time. ACE Academy exposes students like me to future opportunities through tours, speakers, activities, and more.
The experience blew my mind and solidified my choice to become a pilot. The OBAP ACE program introduced me to the appropriate institutions of higher learning that will best impact my future career in aviation/aeronautics. It made me also realize I need to be more intentional and focused moving forward as I enter my senior year of high school!
The OBAP ACE camp was hosted at Southwest’s Corporate Campus in Dallas, which included a tour of campus. We saw the Inflight training area, simulators for Pilots, Network Operations Control, a maintenance hangar, and more. Attending the program in Dallas gave me an insider’s perspective on how to run an airline, an opportunity to sit in the flight deck, speak to Southwest Pilots, and more. I also flew one of Southwest’s Boeing 737 flight simulators, and it was a dream come true. My mom always says, “If we can see it, we can believe and achieve it.”
I know I can achieve my dreams because I’ve now lived them. This program allowed me to see and feel career possibilities for my future. God willing, my dream of being a pilot will one day be a reality. I get goosebumps just thinking about it!
There were so many highlights during my time at the OBAP ACE camp, but the best one was listening to the Southwest Employees share their career journeys with students. I appreciated them sharing their time to plant this seed in me. Of course, flying the flight simulator was a close rival, but I’m humbled by the entire experience.
I’m thankful I had the opportunity to participate in this program and wish I would’ve known about it sooner. If I did, I would’ve attended every single year. My advice to others is not to take this program for granted. While I was sad when the week ended, I was thrilled to hear Southwest offers high school and college internships, which I’ve told all my friends about. I’m excited and willing to relocate in the future to participate in these programs and accomplish my career goals.
Thank you to Southwest and OBAP for collaborating and supporting the next generation of aviators. I look forward to becoming a member of OBAP one day and sharing my experiences with others.