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Meet Victory Circle Scholar: Alina Rai


Alina Rai

  1. Can you tell us a little about who you are and where you’re from?

I am currently a student at Skyline Community College in San Francisco. My area of interest is mechanical engineering with perhaps a minor in aerospace/aeronautical engineering. I am originally from Nepal, but have been in the Bay Area since the end of 2005.

  1. What was your first impression of the Base 11 Fellowship Program, and how did you hear about us?

The first time I heard of Base 11 Fellowship Program was at Skyline College through some posters I saw around campus. The poster mentioned something about a former Base 11 participant interning at Caltech. I was amazed/shocked that such opportunities was even provided to community college students and therefore wanted to know more about this program so I can become a part of it somehow, therefore I attended a small seminar held by the program and the Caltech student. As soon as I heard that we were given the opportunity to apply for internships through Base 11 in STEM related field, I applied and so here I am.

  1. What was the most rewarding part of participating in a Base 11 Internship? Can you tell us about some aspects that stood out to you?

The most rewarding part of participating in a Base 11 Internship was being able to attend/ work with a high ranked university like Caltech. Since I am a student from a community college and a minority woman, it’s hard to see myself working at such a place with great support. I was excited to hear that a girl, like myself, was chosen to become part of this STEM related program, which is very unusual but very exciting to be a part of.

  1. What was the most important thing you learned during your time in the program?

The most important thing I’ve learned during my time in the program would be being independent. The project that I’m doing is MY project, meaning I decide what to do, or how to do the project myself with a guidance from a graduate. I’ve never been this independent before; I’ve mostly done things that I was told to do, but here at Caltech, I’m given that opportunity to think, process, and progress on my own.

  1. How has your life changed since starting the Base 11 program?

I’ve felt more empowered as a woman in a STEM field due to my independence and desire to further achieve knowledge and grow as a person. I have been provided with this opportunity, which now I can build on even more than ever before.

  1.  Do you have any advice for other students who might be interested in these programs?

My advice for other students who might be interested in these programs is to actually go and put yourself out there, meaning do whatever it takes to be part of the program you’re interested in and that if you don’t get in the program, it’s okay because there’s always another chance. Just putting in the effort and trying to make yourself stand out will get you further than not doing anything. Also, try to connect and become part of the field you are interested in; like through clubs, other programs, etc.

  1.  What are your plans for the future?

My plans for the future is to get my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering with a minor in aerospace/ aeronautical engineering. While pursuing my degree, I want to get involved with my community, and with clubs relating to my field of interest, and also do as many internship/fellowships as I can to gain experience and knowledge in the engineering field. After gaining knowledge, I would like to share that knowledge with others, especially with those in third world countries so I can help better their living situation and their knowledge as well.

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