Waheedah Akberzie

Mechanical Engineering Student and Aspiring Voice Actress

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You absolutely can do it. STEM is for everyone and STEM needs every voice if we're going to bring new ideas that can shape the world.

What do you do?

As a student, I want to apply my skills in robotics for the space industry. I want to research and develop payloads that are used for future space missions so that scientists can gather data and learn more about the universe.

Why did you choose this field?

Since I was an engineering student in college, I knew I wanted to work in the space industry. My fondness for robotics grew when I saw how much potential they would have on the world as a whole. My interest in Voice Acting also grew at the same time. I was conflicted about whether I was supposed to give one of them up for the other, but after realizing how I can spend my time, I realize that I can do both if I wanted to. Hedy Lamar is an inspiration for me because she was both an actress and an engineer that shaped the world in her time. As time went on, I was hungry for opportunities that would give me a taste of what it was like working for the space industry. I participated in two NASA funded programs called NCAS and L'SPACE. I've learned what it was like to be in a team I could count on and I've also learned a lot of the details necessary to build a mission from the ground up. These programs have solidified my interest in the space industry as a whole and I can't wait to do more of it.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I want my younger self to know that she can have and work toward achievements that she can be so proud of that it would be impossible to deny it or downplay it in her mind. She was very overwhelmed by the idea of making mistakes and was afraid to fail. To her, I would say that she shouldn't call those failures, but setbacks. Failure is when someone gives up, and she did not give up. She made setbacks that she can learn from before going onto the next step of her journey. From this philosophy, I learned what it was like to be a Project Manager for my amazing L'SPACE team.

Why do you love working in STEM?

One of the best things about STEM, especially when it comes to me and my friends, is that there is this culture of wanting to learn about our subjects of choice as much as we can. I admire my friends when they spend hours understanding a concept that was previously unknown to them. I'm the kind of person that likes the process of learning, which is why this appeals to me. I wake up looking forward to using that knowledge for projects that I'm passionate about, whatever subject that is.

Best advice for next generation?

You absolutely can do it. STEM is for everyone and STEM needs every voice if we're going to bring new ideas that can shape the world. It's not a requirement to start out perfectly prepared for this major. You can learn the time management, critical thinking, and teamwork necessary for your major of interest along the way. All that's needed is some kind of loose interest or excitement about your STEM subject of choice. If you want to pursue STEM, pursue it even if those around you think you don't belong in it. It's your interest and your life, not theirs.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"Learn from yesterday. Live for today. Hope for Tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning."

NOMINATE a woman in STEM

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