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Shady El Farra

BSc Tourism and Aviation Management

MSc Tourism and Aviation

Shady El Farra embarked on his journey at the University of Sunderland studying Pharmacy, before deciding to follow his passion for aviation and transfer on to the BSc Tourism and Aviation Management course. After graduating and completing an MSc in Tourism and Aviation, Shady is now working for British Airways as a member of their cabin crew.

The main reason I chose the University of Sunderland was the city, I woke up one day while I was in New York and decided to look at universities in England. Sunderland’s campus was set next to the legendary banks of the River Wear and St. Peters church, and I was very interested in the history of the city.

I completed two years of the MPharm (Master of Pharmacy) course here, as I had a passion for the medical field, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. When I was studying Pharmacy, my love for aviation won me over. I was learning about aircraft in my free time, and I started to get really interested in aeronautical sciences. I met with both respective heads of departments to request a transfer, the transfer was approved, and I was to complete both my bachelors and master's degrees in the School of Hospitality, Events, Aviation and Tourism.

The transfer was made simple by the staff on both sides. The university allowed me to follow my dreams without any obstacles. My degree provided an outlet for my creativity in the field of aviation and provided me with an abundance of insight and skills that I then transferred to my current job at British Airways. The level of support and networking that happens within the School of Hospitality, Events, Aviation and Tourism was by far the most enjoyable part of the course.

The way the curriculum is designed heavily encourages creativity and the spirit of exploring, collecting information and using adventure to present a summary of your findings. We went on trips around the North East of the UK and the USA/Europe (Lumiere Festival in Durham, The Sage in Gateshead, Poland, the USA). The course allowed me to go and explore Sunderland, Newcastle and Durham and learn more about the area. It became more apparent during Covid-19 how important these trips were, the positive mindset and the friendships sparked through these trips helped me personally through the pandemic.

My main piece of advice would be that if you feel like you are struggling ask your colleagues for help and ask the teaching staff questions. Most importantly, know that in university life there is no rule, no entity and no power that can prevent you from succeeding, if you put your all into your true passion you will find success. Enjoy the journey, most of the time you will take your time at Sunderland for granted but when you move on to your big dream job, you will still look back and miss the little things and memories created in these halls.

During my studies I was offered a job at the British Airways Contact and Customer Centre in Newcastle, the University provided me with the skills needed to get that job and it in turn allowed me to enhance the way I write my thesis due to my firsthand account access to the inner workings of the aviation industry.

After graduating, I was offered a job to represent British Airways as cabin crew, I immediately accepted the job, and I am currently flying as cabin crew with BA. This in turn allows me to experience another part of the aviation industry and opens the opportunity to either get sponsored by BA to become a commercial pilot or to pursue a career in their London HQ all of which will allow me to transfer the skills I collated from university and my work experience.

I personally believe that the University promoted a positive mentality when going into assignments, allowing you to be creative, express yourselves, and sometimes constructively critique yourself. This is something that has stuck with me and when I start a workday and I get on an aircraft the same mentality kicks in and I am instead taking it step by step and task by task to make the working day more positive overall. That mentality extends outside of the work environment as well and has helped me in my everyday life in general."

Published 29 November 2022

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