GTA’s first female driving instructor breaks barriers

Sarah Devi (Maryam Shah/Observer)

She’s an entrepreneur, a mother of two and a charity worker.

She’s also the first female driving instructor in the Greater Toronto Area.

Today, Sarah Devi runs AAMCO Driving School, a business that has grown to include three branches in Scarborough.

Devi remembers the exact date she landed in Canada — July 10, 1978 — as an 18-year-old newlywed with dreams of becoming a pharmacist. Two weeks later she was restless for work.

Realizing her dream would require another year of studying, she took a different path and finished a short banking course at Humber College before joining the CIBC.

“I was working as a bank teller and every three months I was getting a promotion,” she recalled.

After having her first child at age 21, she quit her job.

Sarah Devi on being the first female driving instructor in the GTA.

[audio:http://www.torontoobserver.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/sarah-devi-edited2.mp3]

“Then I was home and said, ‘Well, driving instructor’,” she said with a laugh.

Devi got licensed as a driving instructor through Humber College and opened up AAMCO with her husband and a third partner.

Now, years later, her two grown daughters work as teachers as well as driving instructors.

Devi’s favourite story of a student overcoming adversity is about Alice, an Armenian girl who knew little English and was hard of hearing, she said.

After three months of learning to drive with the help of a niece who translated Devi’s instructions from the backseat, Alice passed her driving test with a high score of 96 out 100.

“I wish I had kept that sheet,” Devi said. “She was so determined.”

In 2006, she registered her own charity in Ontario called International Care Mission for Humanity, with a branch in India.

“I said to myself, I’ve been doing this for so long,” Devi said. “It’s time to give back to society.”