Track athlete finds her passion flying through clouds

By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer, Video by Joe Pratt | LTVN Sports Director

“I wanted to fly,” Cierra said. “I didn’t really know at the time what I wanted to do, I just knew I wanted to travel.”

Spikes on the ground and head in the clouds, traveling is in the DNA of sophomore sprinter Cierra Wash. The runner is in Baylor’s pilot program, where she recently completed a flight with no instructor on board. Although the pilot program is relatively new to her, she’s always known she’s wanted to be on the go.

“My mom was the one that actually found out about the program here and she was like, ‘You might as well give it a try,’” Cierra said.

After learning about the program, she switched her major to Aviation Sciences to better line up with her career vision. She said when she first changed her major, it was difficult to get into and adjust to the demanding schedule. However, she said she met with both her athletic and regular advisors to work out a plan that will be easier to manage. Cierra said she flies every weekend as a way to make up for lost time from overlapping schedules.

“I will balance both of them better this year,” Cierra said. “The only thing I would say is maybe just flight hours. They go out there and fly maybe two-and-a-half hours a day, and because of track and practice, I’m not able to do it as much so I just go on weekends to get time.”

Her mother, Sabrina Wash, works for American Airlines which is what originally put Cierra’s head in the clouds. Yet, her time in the sky goes deeper than just the desire to travel. Cierra said it motivates her to know she is doing something not many black women have the chance to do.

“You know, it’s less than 1% of black women that are pilots,” Cierra said. “I’m blessed to be on a full scholarship here.”

Sabrina said she made sure to give her two cents on whether Cierra should take part in piloting at Baylor.

“This is not something that everybody gets to try,” Sabrina said. “Not only can you do this and make money, but you can also show people your color, y’all can do it too.”

Cierra said she understands the significance of being in her position and how it can impact and inspire more people in her shoes to do the same.

“It’s always nice, especially when you don’t see a lot of you being represented in something,” Cierra said. “When you see other people that look like you, female or black, just doing what you do it’s like, ‘I know that other people have done this, but we come from almost the same background and she did it, so I know that I can.’”

She said she is enjoying the feeling of being on her path, and people have been reaching out to her about it.

“It feels great,” Cierra said. “Over the summer, I got a lot of DMs from people and they’re like, ‘Hey, I wanted to get into aviation’ or ‘I want to know this or know that.’ It’s cool because it’s not something you see everyday. I see that the more other people see it, the more those other people start getting in the field.”