‘Girl-next-door’ Sunita Williams bats for STEM education for girls

  • HT Education Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 02, 2016 17:38 IST
Sunita Williams, an American astronaut, waves to crowds during a visit to New Delhi, India. (Sanchit Khanna/ Hindustan Times)

She has witnessed the spectacle of 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets in a day while on her mission to space. Having achieved this feat and still hungry for more, Captain Sunita Williams believes nothing is impossible. At an interactive session on women’s empowerment on the theme, Women’s Empowerment through STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Education organised by FICCI Ladies Organisation recently, the NASA astronaut shared some of her life’s valuable lessons. Here are some of them:

1.It is possible to achieve anything if a person is qualified and determined with the will to make the right decisions. A person should aspire to try out new things and explore new opportunities. Confidence, perseverance, persistence and knowledge play a key role in achieving the most challenging feats.

2.Calling herself a ‘girl next door,’ Captain Williams said there was no dearth of opportunities and one only had to grab and explore them.

3. It is important to be a good student as it opens doors of opportunities.

4. Young girls should be encouraged to pursue STEM education as it provides a whole lot of opportunities across the board. Studying STEM today offers a plethora of areas to learn, explore and understand, she said.

5. Captain Williams recalled that when she had joined the US Naval Academy, there were only 10% women in the school, a number which over the years has increased significantly. Now women occupy 20% seats at the academy. NASA was also looking out for young engineers and was keen on having young and feisty females in its midst.

6. Speaking about her experiences in a male-dominated field, Captain Williams said that she often found herself in a minority but it never deterred her or interfered with her goals. She knew her tasks well and was competent to take on any challenges. She added that every woman brought teamwork to the table and willingly took care of the team.

7. While narrating many memorable incidents from her numerous space explorations, she said that these experiences have taught her to be spiritual and realise that it would be in the interest of the humanity to preserve earth.

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