WErise: Diandra Paine – Following Her Dreams, Soaring High

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Papua New Guinean Female Aeronautical Engineer, Diandra Paine has always been fascinated with airplanes, especially jet fighters. This is why she followed her dream to study in the field of Aeronautical Engineering at the Shenyang Aerospace University International Education College in China.

But her journey did not begin there. Prior to studying in China, Diandra was caught in the middle of a major school strike at Lae’s University of Technology (Unitech) in 2016 where she enrolled to study Electrical and Communications Engineering. This event propelled her family to seek an alternate place for study, and China became the option.

Diandra spent her primary school years at Korobosea International School in Port Moresby, and then went on to do High School at Hillcrest in Hamilton, New Zealand.  She then returned to Papua New Guinea (PNG) to complete Grades 11 and 12 at the Port Moresby International School (POMIS).

One of her highlights whilst attending POMIS was taking part in the annual debating competitions against other senior high schools in PNG in 2014. Diandra and her team from POMIS would later go on to win the national title for the first time, guaranteeing a spot to represent PNG in the Melanesian Debating Competition against teams from Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. It was during that time, Diandra was chosen to be coach for the PNG team who became the debating champions for Melanesia that year.

Young Diandra isn’t new to representing her beloved country. A true patriot from the Oro Province, Diandra holds great respect for her culture and heritage and loves being able to represent wherever she goes. Whenever there’s an opportunity to attend a cultural event, Diandra is sure to turn up proudly dressed in her Tapa or PNG outfit.

During the 2015 Pacific Games Opening Ceremony, Diandra presented the opening script and read the PNG National Pledge in front of thousands in the audience and viewers worldwide. 

In mid-2016, Diandra pursued her interest in modelling which took her to the stage of the prestigious Miss PNG Pacific Islands Pageant (MPIP PNG) Project Runway in Port Moresby and once again during her summer break in 2017 on the same runway. 

Modelling is something that I take great interest in. Modelling has benefited me in many ways, especially helping to boost my self-confidence, my makeup skills, my people skills, communication skills and my networking skills, etc… When I left for China, I continued modelling for video advertisements, makeup brands, clothing brands as well as artwork exhibitions and took part in a pageant show while I was studying.

China & Covid-19

During her four years of study in the world’s most populous country, the People’s Republic of China, Diandra recalls the most challenging time was towards the end of her studies; the final seven months. This was when the deadly Covid-19 pandemic emerged, taking the country and eventually the whole world into lock-down and everything came to a standstill.

While her friends were leaving and returning home to their countries, Diandra made one of the toughest decisions of her life to remain in China to complete her Aeronautical Engineering course.

Even my family and friends told me to return home but I thought about my Graduation, all the hard work I put in the past 4 years and the overwhelming urge to graduate and receive my degree. I chose to trust God and believe in Him to keep me safe while I focused on doing my final Thesis Research which I needed to pass in order to graduate. I can honestly say it wasn’t easy, but through God’s Strength, I managed to pass my Thesis Defense Research with good grades and graduate. I would never trade these experiences for anything else, because these experiences have shaped me into the woman I am today.

Diandra was among 40 graduating students who decided to remain on campus to brave the pandemic, and have the opportunity to walk on stage to receive her Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Shenyang Aerospace University International Education College in July, 2020. Not only that, her Thesis ‘Research Defense’ was recognised as one of the best work ever produced and was displayed on the school’s official WeChat social platform.

The main highlight of my life would definitely be graduating in my dream course and be one of the top 4 students to take out the Outstanding Excellence Award in my Major. I’ve always wanted to make my mum and aunties proud, so when I walked on stage to receive my Degree, I felt the most satisfying feeling ever. I had tears of happiness knowing I had accomplished one of my biggest goals in life.

My mum and my aunties are my role models. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today; following my dreams, achieving my goals and living my life in a positive way if it wasn’t for them. I am very close to my aunties and mum, they continue to mentor and support me in all that I do. I couldn’t ask for a better support crew and cheer leaders. They inspire and motivate me to go further in life.

The College celebrated its 20th Anniversary this year right after the graduation ceremony and Diandra was chosen to host the show, as well as join her fellow Papua New Guineans to perform a traditional dance, showcasing PNG culture to the delight of the international audience at the College and around the world.

Diandra had initial plans to pursue her career overseas but has since been restricted due to Covid-19 and the closure of borders. Upon her return home to Port Moresby in September this year, Diandra with the help of one of her Aunties, is now running an Online Women’s Clothing Business called ‘The Pineapple Boutique’. Check out The Pineapple Boutique on Facebook and Instagram.

In Diandra’s words, you must;

ALWAYS BELIEVE IN YOURSELF no matter what other people say or think. Remember that you are unique and beautiful just the way you are. BE yourself, never compare yourself to anyone else, set your standards & your goals high and know that you can achieve them if you set your mind to it. Hard work and sacrifice does really pay off. Most importantly, put God first and everything else in your life will fall into place.

In what is generally perceived as a male dominated profession, even more so in PNG, Diandra is another fine example of a young Papua New Guinea woman, confidently stepping out and venturing beyond PNG to forge her own career pathway in aeronautical engineering. 

Diandra has this message particularly for Girls who want to pursue their studies in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics);

Never measure your progress using someone else’s ruler. Focus on your own growth and journey and follow your dreams.

Diandra’s future is very bright, and so is the future of many young PNG women who will no doubt be inspired by her story, and like Diandra, set out to journey into a world that is full of endless possibilities.

Photos Credit: Diandra Paine

WErise – celebrating inspirational PNG women.
Empowering Minds through the Power of Storytelling.

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