The field of aeronautical engineering, like many branches of engineering, has traditionally been dominated by males. While there have been notable advancements in recent years to promote diversity and inclusion, there is still a gender gap in the industry.
SONIA OKERE is excited to share the story of a young woman who overcame every challenge to become the first female aeronautical engineer from Benue State.
Queen Tardoo was born in Adikpo in Kwande Local Government Area of Benue State in the early 1990s. Her parents loved her so dearly and provided for all her basic needs. Since education was one of their top priorities for her, Queen got the opportunity to attend the best schools in Benue State.
The first school she attended was Anendah Memorial Nursery and Primary School, Adikpo, before proceeding to Queen of the Rosary Secondary School, Gboko, also in Benue State.
Having a medical doctor as a dad and a teacher as a mom made me take my academics seriously right from the start. They used to monitor my schoolwork, and at the end of every session, I was expected to get either a first or second position.
Apart from formal education, they also gave me the opportunity to explore my athletic and artistic skills. All these experiences shaped me into the person I am today.
Airplanes are designed with complex systems, and understanding and operating these systems can be challenging
According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” While growing up, Queen was very good in sports, science, and mathematics. Despite excelling in various fields, her heart was set on becoming an aeronautical engineer. According to her, airplanes intrigued her, and she was determined to unravel the mysteries of their flight and functionality.
She narrates: I was a teenager when I fully made up my mind to pursue a career in aviation. However, the only challenge back then was that I couldn’t find any university close by that was offering a degree in aeronautical engineering. So, I proceeded to obtain a degree in Computer Science from Benue State University.
After I graduated, I brought up the issue of studying aviation all over again, and thankfully, my mom gladly supported my decision. So this time, I found a good school abroad and applied for admission.
I enrolled in B.S. Aeronautical Engineering at PATTS College of Aeronautics, Philippines. Later on, I transferred and completed my Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering at Holy Angel University, Philippines.
After I left school, I worked briefly as an Aviation Safety and Quality Assurance Engineer before I went back to Holy Angel University to obtain a Master’s degree in Engineering Management. While I was in school, I started flying with Topflite Academy of Aviation Inc. It wasn’t easy combining both responsibilities, but since I’m a goal-getter, I kept pushing on. Today, I’m enjoying the fruit of my hard work.
AS A WOMAN, I have to work very hard to prove that I’m competent; otherwise, my input might just be overlooked
Becoming Benue State’s first female aeronautical engineer
Engineer Queen Tardoo is said to be the first female from Benue State to become an aeronautical engineer. When asked how she felt about the recognition, she said,
First of all, when the news of my graduation went viral, I was surprised at the encouragement, love, prayers, and kindness shown to me by Nigerians. This title also came with some responsibilities as I started receiving invitations to speak about my success journey. When I discovered that there are many young Nigerians who are interested in joining the aviation industry, I founded Qloudniner.
The company is a standard aviation education and career development consulting firm. We provide the necessary tools, advice, and expertise to help aspiring aviation professionals.”
During my first flight, I was filled with a lot of emotions—excitement, nervousness, joy, etc.
Modelling and awards
Apart from working on aircraft, this beautiful young lady is also an international model who has won a couple of awards. When asked how her journey to modelling began, she said,
I started modelling in the Philippines. The nation invests a lot in beauty pageants, and they are very good at them as well. While I was still a student, I was encouraged by staff members at PATTS College of Aeronautics to compete in pageants.
Initially, I was reluctant, but when I heard that I would earn a one-year, 100 percent scholarship anytime I win a major pageantry competition, I decided to do it.
Being a daring person, I went on the internet and started learning about pageants and walking the runways. My modelling journey began when I won my first competition, which qualified me for the next level, which I also won. In 2016, I proudly held the title of Miss PISO (PATTS International Students Org.), marking the beginning of my achievements.
My modelling journey began when I won my first competition, which qualified me for the next level, which I also won
The following year, I had the honour of being crowned Miss PATTS 2017. As my journey progressed, I was chosen as the Ambassadress of Aviation in 2018, a remarkable achievement in itself. The same year, I also had the privilege of becoming Miss SAEP (Society of Aerospace Engineers of the Philippines).
The year 2019 brought even more crowning moments. I was bestowed with the title of Miss SEA (School of Engineering and Architecture), representing excellence in my field. Additionally, I made history as the first African to be crowned Miss Holy Angel University, a remarkable feat that I will always cherish.
The year 2020 proved to be a turning point in my career, as each major title I earned came with valuable scholarships, rewarding contracts, and exciting projects.
Engineer Queen Tardoo also stated that although she entered the world of modelling with the goal of securing scholarships, today, she finds immense joy in strutting down the runways, creating designs, and inspiring others to embrace their authentic selves.
each major title I earned came with valuable scholarships, rewarding contracts, and exciting projects
According to a Chinese proverb, a gem cannot be polished without friction, nor can a man be perfected without trials. When asked about the challenges she experiences, she said:
Airplanes are designed with complex systems, and understanding and operating these systems can be challenging. So, I have to work very hard to understand these techniques. Moreover, my job is very time-consuming, and I have to make some sacrifices to focus on building my career.
Also, being a woman in a male-dominated field is also a challenge. I have to work very hard to prove that I’m competent; otherwise, my input might just be overlooked.
Life in the Philippines is peaceful and good in general, but I wouldn’t say that I have not experienced racism or gender discrimination. However, I am not someone who gets discouraged by the negatives. Instead, I see them as stepping stones to greater achievements.
If your dreams and your goals don’t scare you, then they are not even worth pursuing
How has it been so far?
Flying is fun and amazing, but if it isn’t meant for you, you can’t force it. You might end up hating it if you do. During my first flight, I was filled with a lot of emotions—excitement, nervousness, joy, etc. I am in the early stages of my piloting career. So, I’m still learning and acquiring the licenses I need to get me to where I want to be.”
The truth is that all your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them. Dreaming is free, so dream big and aim high. If your dreams and your goals don’t scare you, then they are not even worth pursuing.
When you aim extremely high, even if you fail to hit the mark, you will fall to a really good place, not a shallow one.
On this journey, there were days when I felt overwhelmed, and the challenges seemed insurmountable, but I learned that it is often during the most challenging moments that our true strength emerges.
So, the last thing I want to say is let your dreams take flight. Don’t delay it anymore and you will see the heights you are capable of achieving. Oh yes! You can do it!