A former Exeter College student is helping to break the glass ceiling in the aviation industry, having secured a landmark £25,000 scholarship with pilot training provider L3 Airline Academy.
Miryam Ley, 18, is set to follow her father’s footsteps on to the flight deck having been selected as one of only 10 successful applicants across Europe for the L3 Pilot Pathways Female Scholarship; a new scheme designed to help more women in to training to become a pilot.
The scholarship application process involved Miryam undergoing stringent aptitude examinations as well as group interviews and one-on-one discussions on the aviation industry and her ambitions beyond the pilot training course.
She is one of only 10 women across Europe to be awarded the scholarship, which aims to address the historically low number of female pilots working in the industry; with women making up around just 6% of commercial pilots in the industry.
Miryam was formally awarded her scholarship during a ceremony at L3’s new training facility in Crawley, where Prince Charles was in attendance congratulating the successful scholarship applicants.
“I’m really excited to get started now. I want to inspire more females in to aviation because I know it can be difficult when there are so few role models,” said Miryam.
“I’ve always liked flying and have been lucky enough to fly quite a bit because my dad [Andrew Ley] is a pilot. However, I never really considered it as a career for me and I think that’s because, despite knowing a lot of pilots through my dad, I never saw many women doing the job.
“I’ve got the chance now to pursue something I really want to do and I can’t wait to get started.”
Miryam’s journey to becoming a pilot will begin in September at L3’s Ground School Training Centre in Southampton. She will spend six months learning the theory behind taking flight before gearing up to take to the skies from one of L3’s centres in New Zealand, Portugal, Abu Dhabi or Bournemouth.
Miryam continued: “Ground School will be tough – we take 14 exams in six months – but the flying phase of training is what excites me the most. It’s going to be great learning the practicalities of flying from some great locations.”
Fortunately, the teenager from Crediton is well-versed in tough exams, having just graduated from Exeter College with A grades in Chemistry and Maths, as well as an A* in Biology. Her academic achievements led her to applying to study Veterinary Science at the University of Liverpool and the University of Nottingham. She received offers from both universities but subsequently rejected them to pursue her dream career in aviation.
Miryam wanted to pay tribute to the role Exeter College, and especially her tutor Claudia Martin, played in her successful application to L3’s scholarship.
“I loved it at Exeter College. Claudia was an amazing tutor and everyone at the college pushed you and really wanted to get the best out of you in a way that isn’t always the case at other places I’ve studied.
“I got a lot of support from teachers and Claudia did a mock interview with me which I think was a big reason why I did well in my interview at L3.”
Claudia, who lectures in Maths and Science at Exeter College, was delighted for her former tutee.
“Miryam was a star student and gained fantastic results, giving her so many different options after college, which was great,” said Claudia.
“Getting offers to study Veterinary Science at two leading universities is no mean feat, but then to have the skills to go on and achieve this great scholarship to go for her dream career is magnificent; I’m really proud of her.”
Miryam’s training course takes around 18 months to complete, after which she hopes to be placed with an airline and one day become a long haul pilot for British Airways.