Hi everyone! My name is Anamaria Dioane, I am from Romania and I have been studying the Air Transport Management MSc. Incredibly, after almost a year full of challenges and unforgettable moments, my Cranfield journey has almost come to an end and it’s definitely worth sharing.

Aviation piqued my curiosity during my voluntary work in high school when I took part in an intercultural exchange in France. This international experience gave me the motivation to start studying aerospace engineering in Bucharest. During my Erasmus experience in Spain and work experience at EUROCONTROL in Belgium, I heard a lot of aviation professionals speaking highly about Cranfield University. The renowned reputation of the university and its relevance within the industry were the perfect fit for my future career aspirations. Thus, studying at Cranfield University became a new academic target I wanted to achieve, especially given its course structure, which was very different from what I was used to.

In the light of pursuing my professional goal by continuing my studies at Cranfield University, the financial aspects threw up some difficulties along my professional path. My continuous efforts to find financial support did not seem to be successful. When I was about to give up, I received an email from Cranfield with an extraordinary opportunity: the Christine Ourmières-Widener Diversity Scholarship. From that moment on, everything happened in a heartbeat. The application process was straightforward and, despite being extremely nervous during the interview, in a couple of days I was announced as the recipient of the scholarship. Some days later I received more great news, that I was one of the recipients of the Centennial Scholarship from the Royal Aeronautical Society. How the tables had turned in a couple of weeks!

It is hard to express or quantify the excitement of being the recipient of these scholarships. I was offered the chance to achieve my goals under the mentorship of an inspiring role model like Mrs. Ourmières-Widener. Dreams do come true!

The remaining weeks before starting my Cranfield journey flew by. When I finally moved into my room in Lanchester Hall I was both nervous and excited for what was about to start. Happily, I got to know my colleagues, my professors and Cranfield staff in a really relaxed manner, playing bowling and eating finger food. Cheers for induction week!

In the first weeks I also got the chance to meet my mentor in person, Mrs. Ourmières-Widener, who inspired, motivated and encourged me right from the start of my Cranfield journey. I cannot express how grateful and lucky I am to be mentored by a role model for all women in aviation.

Following this, I also got to meet Cranfield’s social media team, who asked me to take part in their “Student Journey” video project, which involves regular video updates from a few students studying different courses throughout their time at Cranfield. I was more than happy to share my experiences and thus help potential future students.

During the next few weeks, I got used to classes, to block teaching, to the campus and its facilities, but I also got the chance to meet more students from all over the world thanks to Friday’s parties at the CSA. Indubitably, the schedule can be intense and requires good time management but I guess that is another thing I learnt during this experience.

Alongside the intensive coursework, I managed to network a lot and meet incredible professionals who came in for some of our classes. Moreover, in February I was offered an incredible opportunity thanks to the courtesy of Professor Graham Braithwaite, who proposed me as the Air Transport student representative at Buckingham Palace for Cranfield University’s sixth Queen’s Anniversary Prize ceremony. Words cannot describe how thrilled and grateful I am for being able to attend to such an event and to have met and talked to Prince Charles. It is definitely an experience I am going to tell my nephews about!

After finishing all our modules, we went to visit the Airbus factory in Toulouse, a fantastic trip together with my colleagues, which was about to become a true challenge. At the exact time when we were in Tolouse, the COVID-19 pandemic started to get worse, borders were closing, and we were concerned about being able to get back to the UK. Happily, we all managed to return to Cranfield but from that point on the situation got critical and classes were suspended, with everyone eventually returning to their home countries.

The last part of my MSc, which included both my group project and my thesis, was carried out exclusively online. The group project was probably the most intense coursework I experienced throughout the year. It was the perfect opportunity to put together everything we had learned so far and test our time management and communication skills.

Lastly, my thesis entailed a lot of work but was an extremely pleasant and productive journey. I chose to research the concept of Urban Air Mobility and its relevance to Sustainable Development Goals, as I am keen on innovation and sustainability. My thesis included a use-case for a city in Romania, an aspect I am extremely excited about. I was absolutely thrilled to see so much interest shown by the industry towards this subject.

At this point, one last step of my Cranfield journey is left, that of presenting my thesis. According to my plan, the next step is to start working within the aviation industry. Given the uncertain times we are living in, I hope I will stick to my plan as I am really looking forward to working towards my future career aspirations: developing strategies and finding solutions for a safe and efficient air transport system.

Maybe given the exceptional context, it is really difficult for me to acknowledge that this incredible journey has almost come to an end. I am certainly a bit upset about not geting the chance to have had a proper farewell but I am absolutely sure we will make up for it next year at our graduation. I am looking forward to meeting everyone again!

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