Ananya Bal has recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), a private higher education institution located in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India. In addition to her interests in Computer Science, she is also passionate about Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. As a woman in STEM, Bal understands the lack of diversity that is present in STEM professions, which is why she’s a supporter and advocate for women in STEM-related fields, especially technology. 

Furthermore, Bal’s stellar list of accomplishments has helped her receive the prestigious Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC’20) Student Scholarship. She embodies the spirit of a model GHC Student Scholar since she splits her time between academic projects and empowering fellow women to participate in STEM fields and activities relating to technology, computing, and engineering.

The Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) is one of the world’s biggest conferences for women in technology. The celebration, named after the computer scientist, Grace Hopper, is organized by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology and the Association for Computing Machinery. The event is an opportunity for women to meet leaders in the Tech world. Also, the conference provides opportunities and support for women in tech that are just starting in their respective fields. Besides, after meeting employers from major companies, many attendees receive job offers and become prospective candidates for that company.

Key takeaways of the interview 

INTERVIEW

  • Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m Ananya Bal. I have recently graduated from VIT Vellore with a BTech in Computer Science and Engineering. I’m very passionate about Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, and love working with data. I aspire to become a researcher in this domain and help create solutions that make our lives stress-free.

Also, I want to contribute to the inclusion of diversity in STEM professions. I understand that being a woman in STEM has its own difficulties; not only do I want to help out fellow women in STEM but to also set an example for future generations.

  • Can you take us through your application process for the Grace Hopper Celebration Scholarship?

You have to fill out a form, answer some standard questions, add your CV/Resume, and give a professor’s reference for a Letter of Recommendation.

  • What are your major accomplishments?

I have secured an internship at Fidelity Investments and am currently working on Automated Entity Retrieval with Natural Language Processing. I had secured a scholarship for my education at VIT. During college, I was among 80 students selected on a national level to attend the Summer School at the reputed IISc Bangalore, conducted by the Dept of Computer Science and Automation, and was chosen for a Summer Research Internship at NIT Rourkela in the field of Recommendation Systems. In the near future, I plan to do a Master’s in Computer Science in the United States.

In terms of co-curriculars, I have been an active member of the Google Developers and ACM chapters at my university. 

And lastly, I’m one of the five students from India to have received the Grace Hopper Celebration Student Scholarship for 2020. I’m also the first ever student from my university to do so.

  • Why do you think you were selected for the scholarship?

I believe that my merit accompanied by my involvement with outreach to women in computing helped me secure the scholarship. I also did not shy away from outlining in my essays the struggles faced by women in STEM. In addition to this, I believe that my professor, Dr. Sharmila Banu, gave me a stellar recommendation. 

  • Any advice you would like to give to future applicants? 

Understand what the scholarship you’re applying to is looking for in its applicants and answer the application questions accordingly. If you feel that you do not have the desired background or qualifications, work on obtaining them and apply later. It is also my advice to learn about various scholarships early on as a student so that you can utilize opportunities at the right time. And lastly, all the best!

Sometimes, being the only female in a room filled with males can be excruciatingly hard. Ananya Bal, a recent graduate of the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), is one of the many inspiring females who understands this problem. Bal has interests in Computer Science, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence, which are all topics in the male-dominated STEM fields. 

Although STEM professions aren’t dominated by females, Bal is changing the playing field by motivating her female peers to work in STEM-related fields, such as technology. 

Written by Jenny Doan

Jenny Doan is a rising sophomore at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, studying English. In her free time, she enjoys reading books, studying Spanish, and jamming to Taylor Swift.

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