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Samantha Townsend, 19 – FUNDED

Samantha Townsend is taking full advantage of her time as an undergraduate student at UNC Chapel Hill; she’s double-majoring in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science and double-minoring in classical languages and data science! This Paliwal Club of 100 STEAM Scholars Fund winner wants to work in tech after she graduates while also pursuing an advanced degree.

What is your professional dream?

My professional dream is to, after I graduate UNC Chapel Hill, obtain a job in the tech field such as a data analyst or a data consultant while simultaneously obtaining either my masters or Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics or Computer Science. I would like to use my advanced degree(s) to work in a technological field and ultimately become a professor of mathematics to encourage others (especially young women) along their educational journeys.

What does being in the Paliwal Club of 100 mean to you? 

The Paliwal Club of 100 is a unique space that recognizes and rewards STEAM-capable women who have the aptitude to change the world. Being a member means that I am able to be a part of a like-minded community who, together, are using our academic and social skills to make our mark for not only our generation, but the ones to come.

Women are underrepresented in the S.T.E.A.M. (science, tech, arts or math) fields and music industry. How can we change this? 

This underrepresentation can be positively affected by educating and encouraging those in positions of authority in STEAM and the music industries to foster an environment of collaboration in and among their employees. Additionally, pairing successful women with young, female mentees will go far in providing wise counsel to the next generation of successful women in STEAM.

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

I would have to say my biggest challenge has been that many people — when first meeting me — assume that, because I’m a female, I do not have interest and passion for all things STEAM. I also think that many people are surprised that I do not allow negative comments about me being a Math and Computer Science major to affect me in any way. I keep focused on the fact that my only limitations are those I place upon myself, not those I allow others to place on me.

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

This grant is a great encouragement to me to press on through the remaining years of my challenging degree. As the level of classes I take increases, the number of women who sit with me in class decreases, and this grant serves as a great encouragement and reminder that there is a cadre of women rooting me on as I spend endless hours studying and researching to achieve one personal goal after another.