For the past 10 years I’ve been working with a German company called PFAFF Molds and during that time I have had the opportunity to meet some truly interesting people.  One of them is Vesna Hoerr. She’s from Croatia, likes to fly planes, was trained as an aircraft mechanic, speaks 4 languages, and isn’t afraid of anything as far as I can tell. Is she the most interesting woman in the world? I’ll leave that for you to decide.  She’s the latest subject of our Student Spotlight and here are her answers to my questions:

1. I find it interesting to learn how people end up where they are. You are from Croatia but lived in Germany for many years and now you live in Charlotte. How did that happen?

Due to the civil war in Yugoslavia, I went to Germany in 1993. There, I spent my early 20’s working in the automotive industry as a technical purchaser and designer. After working for the same company for 11 years, my husband and I were offered the opportunity to go to the US for two years. Those two years ended up turning into 13 and to be honest, I don’t see myself returning to Europe.

2. In our class we joke and call you ‘the most interesting woman in the world’ but it may well be true. You are a licensed pilot and you know how to work on airplanes. When did you first learn to fly a plane and work on airplanes? What do you enjoy about flying?

As a little girl I always dreamed about flying and once I experienced the rush of being in the air, I couldn’t get enough. When I turned 16, I went to military boarding school in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The primary reason for going to the military academy was because of my dream of flying. There I was trained to work as an aircraft electrical mechanic and started my journey to becoming a pilot with glider airplanes, which do not have an engine. While living in Germany, I didn’t get the chance to fly so when we moved to the US, I jumped on the opportunity to continue my training in a 4-seater engine powered Cessna, which is the airplane in which I acquired my private pilot’s license.

3. What made you decide to take Spanish and what do you like about the classes?

I have always wanted to learn Spanish and when I was presented with the opportunity at work, I couldn’t say no! Learning Spanish has been a fun experience for me, especially since I have been able to use my new speaking skills in my personal and work life. I have been able to use my Spanish speaking skills with customers, which has been very rewarding and I also have many friends with Hispanic backgrounds who are helping me practice my Spanish. To keep my Spanish up, I also listen to música Latina!

4. Are there any similarities between you native language and Spanish? Does it make it any easier for you? 

They are completely different languages since Croatian is a Slavic language and Spanish a Romance language. Nevertheless, the similarities these two languages have comes from some of the Latin roots that Croatian and Spanish have in common. For example, the Croatian word for airplane is avion and the Spanish word for airplane is avión. For me, learning languages has always been fun and since I already speak three languages, learning another is less challenging.

5. I go around to a lot of offices during the week and I can’t help but notice that you work around a lot of men. What do you like and dislike about that? That would drive some women crazy. 

My entire professional life has taken place in a male dominated environment, in aviation and now in the automotive industry, but I have always been well respected and valued.

Craig Snyder is the Owner and President of The Language Academy of the Carolinas, Inc.