STEM Scholarship Spotlight: Divya Kalanee

 Hometown: Sugar Land, TX

Major: Computer Science

University: University of Texas at Austin

Divya discovered her passion for mathematics in the 6th grade, when her math teacher – placing a lot of confidence and faith in the problem-solving skills – gave her more challenging problems that the rest of the class in order to teach her something new. She loved trying to figure out how to solve a new challenge because it deeply stimulated her brain and that intrigued her. She became enthralled with finding solutions to problems and mathematics. By the time Divya was ready to go to high school, she was equipped with all the knowledge and skills to take advanced math classes.

This fall, Divya will be attending University of Texas at Austin and will be following her dream of majoring in Computer Science. After graduation, Divya hopes to pursue a PhD in computer science and conduct computer science research, most likely in artificial intelligence or machine learning. Additionally, she hopes to one day be able to work on artificial intelligence at a Fortune 500 company in order to create new products and services to better the life of others.

Fun Fact: Divya is tri-lingual! She truly enjoys learning new languages and experiencing different cultures!

Divya’s greatest inspirations are Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, the three NASA mathematicians portrayed in the biographical drama film, “Hidden Figures.” Since learning about them, Divya has been motivated to pursue her passions in STEM, particularly in the fields of computer science and engineering. They faced great adversity but came out on top and had many accomplishments that significantly helped NASA missions.

Divya’s advice for students interested in pursuing a career in STEM is to not believe everything you see on TV. Contrary to what is shown in some movies or television shows, STEM fields are not that difficult. For example, a computer scientist is not a “hacker” that types at a million words per minute and cracks a site’s security in ten seconds. A career in STEM will prove to be interesting, engaging, full of opportunities, and lucrative. The different fields in STEM are all thought provoking and each has specific attributes that can match a person’s aptitudes.