“Spread your wings, it’s time to fly Make the leap and own the sky.” such a beautiful quote by MS Moem and it so appropriately fits Zoya.
Childhood is the imprint to what we conceive and conspire to become tomorrow. Zoya’s journey of owning the sky started at the tender age of 8, this young girl would run up on her terrace to see these flights passing by and aspired to fly the steel bird, one day. Listening to her, we almost felt as though she was conversing with the universe, soon to be manifested. As a child, she manifested to own the sky’s and stars and today she lives every bit of her dream.
In conversation with The Woman of Substance, Zoya speaks with immense conviction where she feels the universe is blessing her live her dream.
The internet was taken by a storm recently when Flight AI 176, an all-girls team did a 17 hrs 45 mins flight from San Francisco to Bengaluru via the North Pole, one of the longest flight that has created history to have travelled 16,000 km. Applauds and congratulations received by these wonderful girls.
It’s indeed a moment of self-accomplishment when Flight Captain, Zoya Agarwal proudly represents the country. Woman of Substance is extremely happy to feature Zoya in her true sense.
Zoya is a very unique name that means Shining and affectionate. Indeed very warm and humble she is.
Zoya was fond of stargazing and spent most of her time on the terrace of her house. As a child, she did not fancy toys or watching television but when she wanted a telescope, eight-year-old Zoya asked her parents to save up for it by doing away with birthday parties for a couple of years. After she got the telescope, her parents would worry that she was not like the other children in the neighbourhood.
“I used to just look at the sky, stargazing and spot the jumbo jets flying all over the place. I used to be very fascinated by the little flying objects and would be glued to their condensation trails and wonder if I will be able to fly one of them,” she recalls. As the only child in a family with limited means and a conservative mindset in the 90s, when Zoya expressed her desire of becoming a pilot, her mother started to cry. “My mother always wanted me to get married, have children, and look after the family. However, I was not one of those conventional girls or one to stop dreaming because the society around me told me not to do so,” she says very firmly and confidently.
Her passion and ambition grew in leaps and bounds when, after completing high school, Zoya pursued two full-time studies for three years. From 6 am to 3.30 pm, she would focus on her subject s at St Stephen’s College and then dedicated the latter half of the day until 9.30 pm to aviation classes. “At times when there was no electricity, and she would finish her assignments under lamp posts till about midnight. This was her daily routine, and nothing change it.”
Her hard work paid off. To make her dream into reality her parents took a loan to fund her studies and aviation exams. She takes a pause, and with a sigh says.” We try to hide our feelings but our eyes sparkle. A million-dollar smile covers her face.
Zoya is an inspiration to many and considers it as a responsibility to empower young girls to “dream and work meticulously towards achieving it because the view is best from the top of the north pole”. She stands every bit in gratitude to her parents for helping her live her dream, for loving her for who she is. She is happy that in nearly two decades of dreaming to become a pilot, she has made a mark, she has been able to turn her mother’s tears of fear into those of joy.
Little did Zoya imagine but as she rightly exclaims, the universe has opened its arms for her. She received her first award- Pride of the Nation Warrior Award by Chief Guest Dr Kiran Bedi – First Woman IPS, Ex-Governor. This was not it, she even got invited do a TED talk and to inspire thousands around her.
What Zoya, did in her journey was something very simple, she believed in herself and in her dreams followed it with dedication. We salute the passion, she has.