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Meet SHLA Ambassador: Kavya

The SWENext High School Leadership Academy (SHLA) is an engaging virtual year-round program that builds self-confidence and resilience among high school students interested in engineering and technology degrees and provides them with multiple opportunities to network with peers, mentors, role models, and industry professionals. This month we want to introduce you to one of our SHLA Ambassador’s, Kavya! 
Meet SHLA Ambassador: Kavya -

Kavya is a member of the 2022 SWENext High School Leadership Academy (SHLA) program cohort. Read on to learn more about her experiences with SHLA, and some of the amazing STEM work she is doing during high school.   

Meet SHLA Ambassador: Kavya -

What first sparked your interest in STEM/engineering, or made you want to pursue this field?

It seemed completely natural to have an interest in STEM growing up as I loved learning, problem-solving, and tinkering. This interest transformed into a passion when I completed a research project last summer. Using Artificial Intelligence, I developed an app that predicts an individual’s COVID-19 mortality risk. The experience made me realize that the power of STEM can be harnessed to solve real world problems. STEM enables all of us to BE the Change that we want to SEE in the world. 

Why is SHLA important to you? 

 The first word that comes to my mind is community. SHLA has given me a community where I can learn, grow, and share with others. My journey in SHLA has been amazing so far because of the brilliant STEM professionals, enthusiastic students, and inspiring female change makers that I have met. Along with that, SHLA has given me a platform to voice my ideas and elevate those around me. Especially as an ambassador for SHLA, I can be a visible female leader and advocate for closing the gender gap in the STEM field. Overall, the vision of SHLA aligns with my passion for learning, STEM, and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI). I am so honored to be a part of this empowering initiative.  

 Share one “Quick Win” that has helped you excel since being a part of the SHLA program 

 The SHLA program has definitely sharpened my networking skills. From interacting with professionals and fellow students, I have become a more confident public speaker, quick thinker, and meaningful contributor. 

What’s something that surprised you about SHLA?  

 Being able to connect with students who share my passion for engineering has been a pleasantly surprising experience. Through SHLA, I have been able to find an enthusiastic and supportive Women in Tech Network (WIT) that I wasn’t aware of before. Additionally, I am constantly inspired by the diverse perspectives and creative solutions that each student in SHLA brings forward.  

Are you working on any STEM-related projects (outreach events, clubs, building a website, etc)? Tell us about them!  

 I am a Research Intern for the Federal Aviation Administration and the AI & ML Lab at Rowan University. I am currently developing a deep learning model that analyzes cockpit data and predicts attitude values of a rotorcraft (to decrease the number of collisions and accidents). Along with engaging in STEM research, I am also actively involved in my school’s Society of Women Engineers chapter. I regularly organize networking sessions and panels with female alumni who are pursuing STEM careers. Finally, as a member of the Junior Achievement Student Leadership Committee, I lead global hackathons and STEM nights for middle and high school students. 

 What piece of advice would you give to other girls who want to get into engineering and STEM?  

 Be brave and stick to your passions! STEM is filled with a myriad of possibilities, so don’t be afraid to explore and pursue them. It is also important to believe in yourself and your passions because girls have so much brilliance and unique perspective that the STEM field and world needs. By being courageous and confident in your abilities, you can change the world with your talent.  

 About the Author 

The interview was compiled by the SWENext Programs Committee Publications work group.  


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