Dream and Believe In Yourself – Tori Athanasia Nikolaou – Australia

I was born in Wollongong, NSW on 22 April, 1995.

I am of Aboriginal descent from my mother’s side of the family. I belong to the Worimi People from Taree, NSW and the Gambangirr People from Nambucca Heads, NSW. My Greek heritage comes from my father.

I have been brought up in a very cultural environment and am proud of my Aboriginal and Greek heritage.
As a little girl growing up with my older sister, Teisha Anastasia Lea, we watched out father Tony fly aeroplanes in the Kimberly’s, WA, Mt Isa, QLD, the Northern Territory, Wollongong, NSW and Greece. He has now been flying for Virgin Australia based in Brisbane for 15 years.

We lived in Greece for 6 years from 1998-2004 before we came to Brisbane. I found it very challenging living in a foreign country, learning the language and cultural customs. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to have strong family values and embrace both my cultures.

I always had a dream to follow in my father’s footsteps and fly a big jet one day.

When I finished Year 12 at Lourdes Hill Girls School in Brisbane in 2012, I started my Student Pilot Licence at Redcliffe Aeroclub, but my health issues forced me to stop my training for a year. I had cysts on my lower spine and had multiple surgeries over a six-month period. Being a young female, it took a toll on my self-esteem and confidence. Walking around with a device stuck to my lower back to help prevent infection failed and two more operations later I slowly began to heal. I had to reassess my options whilst in constant lower back pain. After speaking with my parents about my passion to continue my dream of becoming a pilot I spoke to my mum and dad and my dad took me to the Gold Coast in October, 2016 to look at flying schools. Immediately I fell in love with Australian Wings Academy based at the Gold Coast Airport. The school had a reputation of providing elite support and individualised training to tailor each student at the school. I enrolled into Australia Wings Academy at Coolangatta on the Gold Coast in November, 2016.

To date I have obtained my Private Pilot Licence in May 2016, and recently my Commercial Pilot Licence in October 2017 with a Diploma of Aviation. I am still currently based at the school where I am finalising my Advanced Pilot Training Program and hope to finish in April this year. It has been very challenging overcoming some of the barriers especially in the flying industry. For instance, being a female in a male dominated industry. At times I have doubted my own ability to get through the gruelling study needed to get to this point.

I have learnt to do the best that I can do and by putting in the hard work I can succeed and believe in my dreams of one day flying a big jet and work around the world doing what I love.

I believe that a major factor in why and where I am today being by the support of my family, but also to prove to myself that there are no barriers in being female and being Aboriginal and Greek descent. I am surprising myself everyday with hard work and dedication, constantly teaching me that the sky has no limits for me in my professional but also personal abilities.

Dream and believe in yourself and they will come true.

My favourite saying is that, “There is always a second chance for everyone, you can start off bad but end good”.

A Strong Woman
Is one who feels deeply
And loves fiercely.
Her tears flow as abundantly
As her laughter.

She is both soft and powerful,
Is both practical and spiritual.

In her essence a Strong Woman
Is a gift to the world…