Lia, 19 – FUNDED

When Lia Kelly started out at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) to pursue a Bachelor’s of Science degree in biology and biotechnology, she was initially planning to work towards a career in stem cell research. But, this Paliwal Club of 100 grant winner has since transitioned to a pre-veterinary track to follow her dream of helping small animals. Her passion for biology still lives on, as she finishes out her degree in biology with a shifted focus to animal science and clinical experience. She’s a perfect example that being introduced to new career options and changing course is totally okay — good, in fact!

What is your professional dream?

My greatest dream is to become a licensed veterinarian. I want to help contribute to animal studies and research. In order to achieve this dream, I’ll have to put years of vigorous effort into my studies both in undergrad and vet school as well as dedicate my time outside the classroom in the real world setting. It will all be worth it to one day to help the lives of our most beloved pets and animals.

What does being in the Paliwal Club mean to you?

I am glad to be part of a club — and a group of people — that is so dedicated to show the potential of women. Any dedicated woman can make a difference, and those who are interested in STEAM have the world at their fingertips.

Women are underrepresented in STEAM. How can we change this?

Women need to know that they are capable of any position they are willing to work for. I am grateful that my polytechnic school, which used to be majority male, has taken incredible strides to include both men and women in STEAM education. For women to become represented, we need to support and lift up our fellow women while holding ourselves responsible for any action that may put others down.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

There was a period of time during which I felt very lost. I think, for a lot of young students. it is hard to really know what you want to do. I convinced myself I wanted to work in human sciences, mainly in a lab or similar setting. With such a big world out there, being introduced to other experiences in college made me realize that I had other options. While still loving STEAM and pursuing that, I was able to change directions as I thought about my career. It is important to know that change is okay and we should embrace the discomfort of change.

How will this grant from the 1,000 Dreams Fund help you reach your goals?

This grant will help fund one of the more integral experiences at WPI, the Interactive Qualifying Project. It is a hands-on, foreign-based project which is a tremendous experience builder for real world problem-solving. As a student in STEAM, this kind of experience can take you far. I am hoping that this project will help boost my profile for vet schools to see. I appreciate the opportunity to receive this help.