“‘What’s your ambition?’ was always a difficult question to answer. There were always too many things to consider but eventually I went to CST to study Electrical engineering. I then got an exchange scholarship to the UK for 10 months and took up research. It was unrelated to my field of study but it sparked an interest in me. I wanted to do more research after graduation but things didn’t work out. So I did RCSE and got a job. It wasn’t very demanding – I felt like I could do more. Around this time, Bhutan was seeking applicants to start its first satellite project. I didn’t apply because I wasn’t eligible. But when the results came, other people had made it through. I felt an instant regret. So I went online to check which university they were accepted to. Maybe it was luck, maybe it was my extreme desire to proceed further, I somehow got the scholarship to study Space Engineering in Japan.

Coming here and being part of the satellite project has been a dream come true. It wasn’t easy, I must admit, but with help and extra effort to understand the functionings, I carried on. With strong will and hard work, I joined the Bhutan 1 satellite project with 3 other Bhutanese. I started at the Engineering Model phase, where the satellite’s functionality and mission execution is confirmed in the emulated space environment. We then progressed to the flight model – which actually flies in space. There are lots of satellite projects carried out here. I’ve been part of 3 so far. Each project is a unique learning experience. I’m preparing myself to be able to help in Bhutan’s future projects. I was offered a PhD scholarship here just as I was completing my masters. I was thrilled and asked RCSC for permission. I had to sign a bond for more years but I didn’t mind it. Developing countries are prioritised by universities, so I believe I’m here simply because I’m Bhutanese. I’m so grateful and want to give back and once I am back home, I want to share my knowledge with others who want to do more.

In CST, less than 20% were girls in my class. Although that remains similar here, no one doubts our capabilities. Girls often grow up thinking their abilities aren’t at par with men. But if you keep your head high and do well, no one can question your skills.”

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is observed on February 11th every year to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. We take this opportunity to celebrate the women and girls like Pooja who have been working in science, in their own big ways.

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