the weekly newsletter from EHS
31 January 2020
I am often asked what makes an EHS girl? It is not a difficult question to answer, especially when you have the privilege of standing in front of the whole school, as I did on Wednesday, and looking out at all the faces, from the youngest to the oldest. You see their excitement, humour, interest, and their respect and passion for the school. The coming together of the whole school to celebrate our birthday and the enthusiasm with which it was celebrated is indicative of the community that I have been so warmly welcomed into and to which I look forward to welcoming many more girls.
We also always enjoy welcoming Old Girls back and on Monday I was delighted that Nadia Ismail could attend our Senior School assembly to give a presentation on what she had been doing since leaving Edgbaston High School, having completed A levels in Physics, Maths and Biology. Nadia’s view on life is refreshing and upbeat and she delivered a fantastic message to the assembly hall on how life doesn’t always go the way you planned, but you have to keep smiling and see one door closing as the opportunity for another door to open.
Nadia left EHS in 2017 to study Aerospace Engineering with Pilot Studies at Liverpool University. There is no doubt that Nadia loves flying and the fact that she was able to combine this with an engineering course was a perfect compromise for Nadia and her family. Nadia spoke frankly about the fact that sometimes she did not always enjoy aspects of her A levels nor find them easy, but that she persevered because she knew that they would help her realise her dream of being able to fly planes, as well as keeping other options open. We were treated in the assembly to Nadia’s memories of EHS, especially with regard to the help and support that she received from her teachers. We also heard about the many opportunities on offer at university. However, one of the reasons that I invited Nadia to speak to the school was that when I first met Nadia back in September she was on cloud nine because she was off to fulfil her lifelong dream, but just a couple of weeks later it was cruelly snatched away from her. The way that Nadia dealt with this disappointment was so inspiring that I wanted all the senior girls to hear it.
In the second year of university Nadia decided that her desire to fly commercial planes was so strong she decided to put her academic studies to one side and apply to ‘flight school’. She went through a rigorous selection process and out of thousands of applicants got through to the final round. 12 people were shortlisted and Nadia explained how she was up against older candidates (mainly men) who had MScs and had far more hours of flying experience. Undaunted Nadia gave it her all and explained to the hall that she just thought ‘well what do I have to lose?’ Nadia rather modestly said at this point, that she wasn’t sure how she did it, but that ‘miraculously’ she was selected and became one of six to secure a place at a prestigious flight school for commercial pilots in Spain. Thousands applied and only six secured a place. It was fascinating to hear about the process and wonderful to see how excited Nadia was to be fulfilling her dream of becoming a pilot. However, she went on to reveal that she learned a week before she was due to fly out to Spain that the airline which was going to sponsor her through the training (it costs tens of thousands to learn to be a commercial pilot) had collapsed and gone into administration. This was, of course, Thomas Cook. You could have heard a pin drop in the Octagon; the girls knew that this would have been a devastating blow to someone as passionate about being a pilot as Nadia clearly is. And the power of what Nadia did next was not lost on the girls, because Nadia picked herself up, rang Liverpool University and got them to take her back into the final year of her degree. She knows flying is very definitely in her future and is looking into alternative ways to fly the bigger planes that she knows she longs to.
The number of girls I heard chatting about the assembly as they walked back to their form rooms was testament to the energy with which Nadia delivered her presentation and the relatable story of ambition, desire, excitement, disappointment, resilience and optimism.
Nadia is the embodiment of the EHS ethos of aspiring to be the very best version of yourself and of maximising every opportunity on offer. EHS students do this on a daily basis and collaborate to enhance their learning experience. Recently, some EHS students have proposed presenting research to other year groups in lesson time to encourage greater learning links between year groups and because it will encourage them to come out of their comfort zone. They have also put forward the idea of reflecting upon their numerous enrichment activities in a learning diary. All students across the school have also been invited to attend a lunchtime forum called the ‘Cutting Edge’ to contribute to an EHS teaching and learning manifesto but also to debate and explore topics that are important to them ranging from Politics, Philosophy and Poetry. These forums will be chaired by the students themselves and will provide further opportunities to develop the impressive skills shown already by so many EHS girls past and present.
What makes an EHS girl? Enthusiasm, perseverance, ambition, involvement in multiple areas of school life, respect for all, intellectual curiosity and above all, determination.