KUALA LUMPUR: Ummi Annuar Syahmina will become only the third Malaysian woman to be admitted to a military academy in the US, but she is not daunted by the challenge.
Ummi, 20, is hoping to reach for the skies like her heroes, Gen Fadzillah Abdullah and Lt Col Patricia Yap of the Royal Malaysian Air Force.
Fadzillah was the first Malaysian female air force pilot who went on to become armed forces’ director-general of defence training, while Yap was Asia’s first female MiG-29 fighter pilot.
“They showed me that this is possible and that I can do it too,” Ummi said, adding that she is the first in her family to pursue a future in the military,” Umm said.
“No one in my family is in the military so they don’t really get it, but I’m happy that they have always supported my aspiration to join the RMAF.
“To be able to study at the US Air Force Academy is an indispensable experience that will help me get there.”
Ummi said this to reporters at the US Embassy, who celebrated her admission and that of Faidh Izzuddin Mat Sahari to the US Air Force Academy and the US Military Academy respectively.
Present was US ambassador Brian McFeeters.
Ummi, from Port Dickson, said her experiences as a female cadet in a male-dominated environment required an extra level of determination and she had to hone her leadership skills.
She is the third Malaysian woman to be admitted to a US armed forces school, as she will enter the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs on June 18.
“It’s a great feeling, but I do feel responsible for everyone else because I’m setting an example. I will be fine one day, and I will make it work,” she said.
Faidh Izzuddin Mat Sahari will be attending the US military academy at West Point, New York.
Faidh was born with a father in the military and a mother who worked as a mathematics teacher.
As the eldest of three children, he said he has a responsibility to be a good role model for his siblings.
Faidh, who is from Kuala Lumpur, says his father is his biggest inspiration as he often spoke about his experience in attending a course at a US air force base in Mississippi.
“My father taught me about life, about the military, about discipline. If I meet anyone in the military who needs advice, I’d suggest what my father always taught me,” he said.
“I look up to him, especially the way he reacts to hardship. I am so grateful I am his son.”
Faidh said he was inspired by West Point’s vision to change the world. “It is an amazing opportunity that’s been handed to me, and I want to bring their vision to Malaysia.”
He said every cadet at West Point had their own path, which came with (the risk of) failure. “My advice to future cadets who wish to study abroad is to get up after failure. If you believe you can do it, you will,” Faidh said.
Faidh is due to enter West Point on June 20. Both cadets have just completed their foundation course at the National Defence University of Malaysia.