Student Spotlight: Rachel on flying high towards a bright career in aviation
Words by Rachel Kee
My name is Rachel Kee and I’m from Penang, Malaysia. I have just completed a Bachelor of Aviation, majoring in Aviation Management, at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Springfield campus. My dream career is to be a pilot for an international airline.
I have been interested in aviation and airlines since I was a child. I’m actually following in my father’s footsteps as he wanted to become a pilot. My father’s dream didn’t work out, but his stories about training to be a pilot sparked my interest in aviation for me. I have other family in the airline industry and their stories about travelling abroad also inspired me to follow my dream of becoming a pilot.
My mum gave me the idea of studying in Australia, so I started researching and got really excited about the opportunities. Queensland has a great international reputation as a study destination where the educational institutions and industry work closely together.
Then my parents asked whether I was sure I wanted to study overseas – Mum doubted me even though she planted the idea! At first, my parents were a little hesitant but, in the end, I convinced them to let me study abroad and it was all green lights from there.
I chose USQ specifically because of the aviation course – USQ is one of the top universities for studying aviation and the only university in Queensland with both the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320 flight simulators. My student cohort was just 100 students and I was one of only around 10 females in the aviation course. The course size meant it was possible to have one-on-one interaction with lecturers, as well as access to meetups with mentors and tutors.
I enjoyed studying aviation at USQ because of the flight simulators, which were honestly the highlight of my course. We met a lot of female pilots and industry speakers as part of the degree and it was great to have these women as role models. I also had great professors and lecturers with strong connections to the industry, which I believe will give me the edge in my future career with an airline, airport or aviation regulatory body such as CASA (Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority).
The location of USQ was also appealing – Springfield is just 30 minutes’ drive from Brisbane. Before I came here, all I knew about Brisbane was that the weather was great and close to beaches and mountains and forests for bushwalking. The weather wasn’t so different from Malaysia, but I didn’t know much about Brisbane or where it was.
I moved to Brisbane right after high school and, I’m not going to lie, it was a bit of a culture shock for me. I think every international student would experience the same feeling – it’s just different cultures.
I’m fortunate to have met really great people, such as my Australian housemates who have taught me about Australian culture and the lifestyle. I also found it easy to make friends and connections at university as well. In my second year at university, I participated in the Brisbane International Student Ambassador Program, which is where I met a lot of my closest friends now.
I’m really glad I took the opportunity to study abroad because I feel it’s totally changed me and made me more independent. Initially, it was challenging to come to Queensland all by myself for an international study experience. But in the end, I met amazing people, made great friends and was able to see the different lifestyle of Australia.
I would definitely recommend international students come here to Queensland. I absolutely enjoyed it and do not regret a single thing.