Winnie, 22 – FUNDED

Winnie C. knows how important it is to listen to that tiny little voice of hope that speaks from within. The Paliwal Club of 100 grant winner is attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she is studying chemical engineering.

What is your professional dream?

I wish to do engineering-related policymaking and help decision-makers draw up climate-friendly policies in areas such as transportation and utilities infrastructure.

What does being in the Paliwal Club mean to you?

It means that there are people who believe in me and support me pursuing my dreams. That is really empowering when one is usually surrounded by naysayers! I hope that joining the Paliwal Club will help me to be a role model to others, too.

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

We need to dispel entrenched misconceptions about how gender makes one predisposed to certain interests/roles. Sure, broad overall trends may exist, but these sweeping generalizations leave out huge portions of the demographics they supposedly describe and disadvantage them from living out their full potential.

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

One major challenge I see around me is a lack of hope — that we cannot really change things for the better, or that even if we do, it will only work to delay the inevitable (whether that be devastating climate change, or ever-growing socioeconomic inequality). Coupled with that is a lack of courage in imagining a better future.

We do not take as much action as we can and should because we do not believe we can make a difference. With such a mindset, we shoot ourselves in the foot before we can even get going. It can be hard to push on when we meet failure, but at such times we really need to listen to that tiny little voice of hope speaking from within.

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

The fund will help me carry out research activities over the next year while worrying less about my expenses! I have been planning on attending an academic conference for a while now, so fingers crossed that the pandemic situation will improve enough for that to happen in a few months’ time!