Michelle, 19 – FUNDED

When Michelle Bautista started her college career as a computer science major at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, she experienced firsthand the wide gender gap in STEAM — and it was quite challenging and disheartening. Now in her second year of undergraduate school, the Paliwal Club of 100 grant winner has found her footing — but, because of what she experienced, she’s all the more passionate about making girls feel welcome in STEAM.

What is your professional dream?

I aspire to become a software engineer with a focus on front-end development.

What does being in the Paliwal Club mean to you?

Being in the Paliwal Club means I do not have to concern myself as much with financing an opportunity outside of class. I can concentrate more on my education and contributing to my communities. It’s an honor to be supported alongside other rising young women in the STEAM fields.

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

We can change the underrepresentation of women in STEAM by offering more support to young women and girls. It’s important to make girls feel welcome when they are pursuing their interests and academic subjects in the STEAM fields. We need to be open with our respect and admiration for female leaders of all backgrounds in the STEAM fields. We also need to encourage these women to stay on their desired paths once they enter their post-secondary education and/or careers. We need to openly encourage their dreams and ambitions to make changes in STEAM.

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

Once entering college, I struggled with “imposter syndrome” where I dealt with feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy but without any real reason. I mainly contribute that to not meeting any other students pursuing computer science who looked like me on campus or that shared a similar background. I was aware of the gender gap in tech, but to experience it was difficult and a little disheartening.

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

This grant will help me attend an insightful convention for women in tech. I will be able to attend inspiring keynotes and sessions, network with peers, and gain important resources to help me succeed in and advance my career.