Learning to Be Fearless
What is the secret to success? Most believe that passion is the key.
Stephanie Faison, Mount Pleasant resident and Air Traffic Manager of Charleston International Airport, challenges this idea and shares her personal journey of success.
In 1986, Faison worked as a flight data clerk in New York Center. Scraping by to pay the bills and living on a boat off the coast of Long Island, the Northeastern graduate knew that it was time to make a career move. But where?
When two friends approached her with an opportunity, Faison knew she had to say yes or as she recalls thinking, “It’s probably better than what I’m doing now!” The three formed a lifelong bond and it led to their becoming the only three female air traffic controllers (ATC) in New York Center at that time.
“We started together in 1987. In my area, we were the only three women out of two hundred and sixty,” Faison recalls. “It was unusual–and difficult.”
While Faison was growing up, her father worked as an ATC, but she hadn’t planned to follow in his footsteps.
“I needed a job. I was living on a boat on Long Island and was working as a government clerk, getting paid very little. One of my friends said to me, ‘We should take the [ATC] test!’ I said back to her, ‘Why not?’”
Faison says her secret to success has been and is networking. Her life-long friendships have taught her the importance of fearlessness, tenacity, and saying “yes” to opportunity when opportunity knocks.
“It helps when you surround yourself with people who are going through the same struggle as you are. My friendships are very important to me,” she says.
Her hard work paid off. She leads a team of air traffic controllers and oversees the air traffic operations at the Charleston International Airport Tower and surrounding areas. As for Faison’s favorite part of the job?
“The money,” she says, laughing. “Beyond that, it’s a very interesting job and a great career. It’s very stimulating and I do a lot of problem solving. It’s never the same. I solve a puzzle in a different way every time I sit down.”
Faison’s career and life path has enabled her to travel all over the globe, but she chose Mount Pleasant as home. She lives on two acres of land in the beautiful and tranquil Alston Point with a dozen chickens, as well as a few cats and dogs.
“I love Mount Pleasant and Alston Point,” Faison admits, “Mount Pleasant is developing quickly, but here, where I am, it’s very quiet.”
Faison is the mother of two college-aged children. Her daughter is pursuing studies at the College of Charleston and her son is a student at the Maritime College in the Bronx, New York.
Faison’s lives by the mantra of being fearless. She inspires everyone she meets to live fearlessly and to hold fast to friendships. Her story teaches the importance of seizing the day, and begs the question, What will you say “yes” to today?