Aircraft maintenance engineer builds a better future

Congratulations to Chrisaona Srey for receiving The University Women’s Club of Vancouver Bursary!

Chrisaona is a fulltime BCIT student in the Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Program (AME).  Even though she has a long way to go before graduation, she already has big ambitions for her future career. Being a female in a predominately male industry, she intends to change people’s perceptions by empowering others and giving back to communities around the world. We caught up with Chrisaona to find out more:

Chrisaona Srey working on an aircraft at the BCIT Aerospace Campus

Why did you decide to study at BCIT?
I moved to Burnaby from Edmonton by myself to start building a career that I’ve put off multiple times. From 2001 to 2008, I spent time in foster care with my siblings, and ever since high school I’ve been working to help support my family. I went from being a full-time employee to being a full-time student and, as much as it’s been a challenge, it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made yet!

I chose BCIT specifically because of their well-known Aviation program. Since I have aspirations of obtaining a position in aircraft mechanics with a well-known company, I would like my diploma to be able to support me in the application process. BCIT has a highly regarded reputation that is widely recognized in trades and aviation industries.

What challenges do you face as a woman in a male dominated trade and how do you think it will shape your career?

The fact that I am a female in a male dominated program may be seen by others as a challenge or an obstacle, but I believe this makes me strive for greater achievements. I believe I have traits and abilities that would prove to be beneficial in any AME position.  When I was a child and a young teen I had interest in engines and motorsports, my father was always against me playing with parts etc., but over the years as my interest grew for mechanics I knew what career path it would eventually lead me to.

As a successful AME engineer, I will promote other young women to do the same and follow their passions. Since I myself knew that I was taking a potential risk in moving out of the province to take the AME course, I would like to be able to change the perception of the program to the point where women will not have doubts or hesitation when registering for AME programs. By eliminating these doubts, more women will be enrolled in programs creating a larger female workforce.

What drew you the Aircraft Maintenance Engineering program?

I want to be able to use my skills and take them with me around the world. There’s only so many makes and models of airplanes and helicopters out there; so whether life takes me to China or to Africa, I can lean on my skills and support myself job wise and make a living. I want a career that can help me travel while doing something that I love: both helping people and fixing things. Aircrafts can take you all over the world and that is exactly what I’m looking for.

In what ways do you hope to help underprivileged and third-world communities after graduation?

Well for starters, I’ve always had a passion for helping others. After my mother passed away of MS when I was 16, I took her ashes back to Cambodia as it was one of her last wishes. She was a refugee and wanted to be home with the rest of her family when she died. In my travels I was lucky to have had enough time after the funeral to help my aunt with her non-profit organization overseas. She helps clear space and make homes in shanty-towns for the homeless. She also opens public schools in those areas to help give orphans and families that can’t afford private schools an education. After a couple of months overseas helping her with tasks from teaching basic English to collecting food and school supplies for these young kids and elderly people, I knew this is something I was called to do.

There are so many communities in need that are practically unreachable by ground travel. I thought long and hard and figured that I should put my talents (working with my hands) to use and make a career out of it so I can support things like transporting basic supply needs and medication to these areas. I wouldn’t be flying any helicopter or plane, I’d be doing the maintenance on them, of course.


Chrisaona would like to extend her sincere thanks to the University Women’s Club of Vancouver for their investment in her education and future: “I’m truly thankful and blessed that I was chosen as someone worthy to be awarded this bursary. Covering half a terms tuition helps me a lot. With the generosity that you’ve shown me, I can assure you I intend to pay it forward once I’ve established my career.”

About the University Women’s Club

The University Women’s Club of Vancouver was founded in 1907 by a group of eight young women graduates of universities in Eastern Canada and the U.S.A. They strive to stimulate intellectual activity, promote an interest in public affairs, educational issues, maintain high standards of public education, and to provide bursaries and scholarships. Since the University Women’s Club of Vancouver established their first award with BCIT in 1984, they have awarded over $40,000 to BCIT students.

By partnering with the University Women’s Club of Vancouver, an organization with strong historic roots in the province and around the world focusing on education, together we will continue to strengthen the futures of qualified female BCIT graduates and student’s like Chrisaona, who will continue to help B.C. companies, communities and individuals prosper.

 BCIT Foundation

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