PRESCOTT, Ariz. - If you’ve ever had a lofty dream – you’ve probably wondered how you will ever accomplish it. And many times those goals seem like they can never be reached.
For Oulwadamilola "Dami" Coker, that dream was flying.
“I remember just as a kid, it was one day I stood outside and looked up, and there was an aircraft flying. And it was so high up, and I don’t know, it just dawned on me,” said Coker. “And I thought, 'That’s what I wanna do.'”
Coker is originally from Nigeria, where there are limited options for someone who wants to become a pilot. Eventually, he found Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
“I had to leave everybody. My family is still back in Nigeria,” he said. “But if you have a passion for something, than you just have to pursue it.”
Years after leaving everything he knew behind, he’s now teaching others how to soar.
“At first, I didn’t think I’d be here that long, but when I got into instructing, it’s just something I loved,” said Coker. “It's seeing people go from no experience to something and seeing you were a part of that for them, is just really just cool. It gives you that feeling of accomplishment that you’ve actually made an impact in someone’s life.”
And all of his hard work and dedication didn’t go unnoticed.
Earlier this month, in a room full of his peers, Coker was awarded the 2018 FAA flight instructor of the year award for the state of Arizona.
“I got an invitation to the banquet, and I didn’t think that anything was going to happen,” he said. “It's still hard for me to believe right now that I got the award.”
And even though he might have his sights set on flying the biggest planes someday he is here to stay for now - inspiring others to follow their dreams.
“Don’t give up. It’s very easy to look at all the things that are going on around and say, 'I’m probably not going to get there,'” said Coker. “Ten years ago, I would have never thought about the fact I would be here — I just never gave up that dream.”