“In a span of just six years, I taught myself to overcome my self-doubt, shyness, and deep-seated fear of heights to become one of the best aerobatic pilots in the world. It still seems impossible for me to believe.”

Cecilia Aragon is an American computer scientist, professor, and champion aerobatic pilot. She is well known for being the co-inventor of the treap data structure. She currently teaches at the University of Washington. She also has written her own biography called Flying Free: My Victory Over Fear to Become the First Latina Pilot on the US Aerobatic Team. She has also won the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Nationality: American

Industry: Computer Science

Q: How did you overcome shyness, doubt and a deep-seated fear of heights? (The Record)

A: “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.”