HCDE Professor Cecilia Aragon on overcoming fears, becoming an aerobatic pilot, and her forthcoming memoir

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Aragon with her planeCecilia Aragon, Professor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering and director of the Human-Centered Data Science Lab, is also a record-holding aerobatic pilot who has flown with the United States Unlimited Aerobatic Team.

Dr. Aragon recently visited with KUOW's Bill Radke on The Record to discuss how she overcame self-doubt, shyness, and a deep-seated fear of heights to become one of the best aerobatic pilots in the world. Aragon is sharing more of her personal story in her forthcoming memoir, Flying Free: My Victory Over Fear to Become the First Latina Pilot on the Us Aerobatic Team.

"What I felt really helped me, was to do something that was the scariest thing I could possibly imagine but also something that I loved. And by facing that, and learning that I could face it every day, and I could keep getting better at what I loved doing—It gave me the courage to approach many other challenges in my life. And this is what I try to tell students today when I work with them, is that you can do anything you want to do if you just face your fear, and stand up to it, and keep trying."

Listen to the 13-minute segment below.

Play buttonCecilia Aragon, Flying Free

You’ve probably heard of exposure therapy for fears: maybe you touch a snake, or force yourself to start a conversation with a stranger. But curing your fear of heights by learning to fly a stunt plane is next level. Cecilia Aragon is the director of the Human-Centered Data Science Lab at the University of Washington. She’s also author of the forthcoming memoir Flying Free: My Victory Over Fear to Become the First Latina Pilot on the Us Aerobatic Team.