#WomeninSTEM · #WomeninTech · Computer Science · inspiration · Science · STEM · tech tools · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Meenakshi Das

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I am an international student from India studying computer science at Mississippi State University. One fun fact about me is that I did not study any science in high school but after taking a programming class in freshman year of college, I fell in love with it and now I am a computer science major!

What # would define your life journey?
One hashtag that would define my life journey is #bepositive. I was diagnosed with a speech impediment in my childhood and it affected my confidence largely throughout my teens. Although I was terrified of interacting with the outside world, it was always my dream to study in the United States and coming here was the best decision I have ever made in my life!

Having a disability myself, I understand the importance of Accessibility and why it is important for us to work toward accessibility in the education and tech. I recently received a grant to attend an Accessibility Conference in San Diego where I realized that I need to contribute towards making the world a more accessible place. I got in touch with some researchers at other universities who were working on tools to teach programming to blind students and were ready to help me conduct my first ever workshop to teach coding to visually impaired high school students! With the support and encouragement of my wonderful academic advisor Dr Sarah Lee,  we were able to draft a budget and schedule and we are a step away from submitting our grant for the workshop!

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Favorite website / app:
Right now, I am obsessed with Hackerrank and enjoy solving coding problems there. Also I absolutely love snapchat filters.

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
My life inspiration is definitely Helen Keller. She has inspired thousands of people with disabilities and exemplifies why you should never give up.

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Song that makes you want to dance:
Currently, “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran but I cannot live without Bollywood music!

Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
I would say I struggle every day of my life to remind myself that I need to keep working hard and believe in myself despite my disability. Sometimes, it gets overwhelming but as Helen Keller once said “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it”; I am sure I will get past my insecurities.

Ideal Job:
Microsoft has been doing great stuff in the Accessibility space and I would love to work there in the future and have impact on products used globally.

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What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Advice I would like to give women, especially women with disabilities is that never feel you are not worth something just because of your disability. Two years back, I could not imagine myself speaking in an interview and now I am proud to have obtained a three semester technical internship. Believe in yourself and it’s truly wonderful where self confidence can take you! 🙂

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