Launching Dreams with STEAM
(Science, Technology, Engineering,
the Arts, and Math) education!
Hello, my name is Sagarika Chikhale. I am a 20 year old Aspiring Astronaut from India. When I introduce this to someone or when someone asks about me, they react with big eyeballs asking how someone like me has an interest in such a boring stream, and I don't know why they think like that. Here I am saying today that the Aerospace Industry is the only amazing field having a number of opportunities. Not only that, it is addictive if you follow through the internet or media...and by mistake if someone asks you about space, you are definitely not going to leave him / her until you get satisfied with your discussion.
It's really amazing when you are part of this. One question arises here...why I love the night sky, rockets, stars, satellites, etc. Well, since I was in 6th standard I can remember looking up at the night sky. I wondered what the stars where made of, but most of all I dreamed of someday going there...only I knew that it would happen and I would go to space!
This all comes from when I was in 6th standard. We had a chapter titled "An Indian-American Woman in Space" and she was Astronaut Kalpana Chawla, the 1st Indian Woman Astronaut. By looking at her picture in the textbook and what she was wearing...orange suit and sitting with helmet on...I thought "biker" instead of Astronaut. That was the first time I ever heard of Astronaut. When my teacher told the story of Kalpana Chawla, my whole life was changed. I spent weeks searching for information on astronomy. Initially I had no sources to better understand space. I used newspaper cuttings to raise my knowledge. Along the way I realized that the journey I traveled and those experiences were not important to me. As we all know Abigail Harrison (famous teenage Aspiring Astronaut) said, "NASA is looking for people who are passionate about what they do, not for those who think they are fit for this job," and I agree with her.
Through my journey I met two honorable people: Astronaut Story Musgrave from NASA, and Lluis Gesa from the European Space Agency (ESA). Astronaut Musgrave taught me one thing: Do what you love to do, and if you really want to do it, just do it. Lluis Gesa showed me to chase your passion. Lluis inspired me to do things to inspire someone else about their dreams, the way he has.
Firstly, you have your own ambition...your dreams to be an Astronaut, a Doctor, a Scientist...whatever it may be, and you need to talk about it with other people. The first (other than myself) to believe in my dreams were my parents. I started saying, "I want to be an Astronaut," when I was just a kid. They saw me with two diaries that were full of newspaper cuttings from the Big Bang Theory to How to Become an Astronaut. My parents said, "Why not be a scientist or doctor?" It's not that they discouraged me, they didn't believe. I still remember the day when I was in 10th standard and I was still saying I want to be an Astronaut. That's when my father said, "If this is what you want to do, you need to start working towards it now and think about how you're going to get there." From that time my parents became my biggest supporters.
Next, you have to act big. This means taking opportunities when they come upon you. When I organized an event at my college to inspire others, that was the time for me to act big. That event was my biggest opportunity to present myself in front of others. All you need is to have patience and stay strong. You need to surround yourself with those people who have dreams like you. For me, other than my parents, there was my best friend Garima. She believed in me and my dreams. She supported me all the time and she still supports me. I believe that dreamers can change the world, and everyone will support you if you believe in yourself. You must remember that you can achieve whatever it is you wish to achieve. There will be setbacks. There will be doubters. There will be hard-minded people who will think you are crazy and try to discourage you. But remember, you create your own reality and you are capable of greatness!
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