Srishti Gupta, an international student from India studying at Georgia Institute of Technology is a finalist for the ISV Magazine Margaret W. Wong Scholarship. Read her essay here!
Most people realize their passion on a significant date or incident. My defining moment was January 16, 2003; I was only six, but old enough to understand that the citizens of India were proud and exhilarated. The reason was Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian woman astronaut, the mission specialist on space-shuttle Colombia. The excitement was contagious and our teachers told us everything they knew about Kalpana Chawla. It was a revelation and an inspiration. The word ‘Astronaut’ had entered my ‘orbit’, to which I developed a lifelong affinity.
Then, I did not understand the amount of work and effort required to get where Kalpana Chawla was, but thereon she became my role model. ‘If she could do it, so could I… After all we share birthdays.’ A fillip, transformed itself into an intense passion. However, the fly in the ointment was that though fascinated by the stars, I was Avatophobic. On 1st February 2003; I was watching the TV, awaiting Colombia’s return; when the newscasters turned serious and started looking grim. Next morning, I found out that Kalpana and all her crew, had gone to, “a better place”. I was in awe of their bravery. It took me many years to really understand the technicalities of the Columbia disaster. However, at that moment, I still wanted to be her, and follow her footsteps to the stars. The incident didn’t scare me; instead, it helped me gradually overcome my Avatophobia. At the time, most people did not understand that this child’s dream was no longer an intent; it was a driving force. Today, this driving force has brought me, an exavatophobic, to be enrolled in Georgia Tech as an Aerospace Engineering student!
My career goal is to research space flight and develop new technology. United States of America is the premiere platform for all aerospace activity with the presence of NASA and Spacex, especially with recent announcements about commercial space flights.
Hence, the level and quality of education that I can receive here, remains unmatched. Everyday, in my research projects as an undergraduate student, I get to work with actual data and apply my theories in reality. In India, I could work with great theorists and learn about algorithms but the US education system allows me to learn practical application and in my field that is one of the most important things. It shows me that there are others who share my passion. In fact, I meet people like me from all over the world, everyday.
One of the greatest things about American education is the diversity that I found in college. In India, only Indians who had a similar perspective surrounded me; in the US, I meet people from all
over the world who have a completely different way of looking at things than me! Meeting new people who share my goal but have a plethora of different ideas is extremely refreshing. Being in a different country has exposed me to new possibilities and has made me more confident in my goals. The US education at Georgia Tech has led to becoming a more confident student with a unique research perspective and practical knowledge, in a single year. I wonder what it will do in the coming four years.
Home Country: India
University/College: Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia