Skip to main content

Grad Success

Profiles of Florida State's Best and Brightest

Puja Upadhyay

Puja Upadhyay

College of Engineering

  • Current Doctor of Philosophy Student in Mechanical Engineering,

Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Embassy in the United Kingdom

Dreams Take Flight with Amelia Earhart Fellowship

Puja Upadhyay, a doctoral student in Mechanical Engineering, didn’t always know she would be working in aerospace.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be a doctor, pilot, an artist, or any of that. I knew I was more into building things or figuring out how things worked,” said Upadhyay. “A five-year-old me couldn’t really put together what engineering really meant, but I knew the work I wanted to do as an adult was related to physics, machines, [and] engines.”

Upadhyay was one of only 35 women from around the world–and one of two Florida State students–to receive Zonta International’s Amelia Earhart Fellowship. The purpose of this award is to support women pursuing doctoral degrees in aerospace-related science or engineering. Women remain a minority in these areas, and the Amelia Earhart Fellowship helps recipients purchase study materials and participate in research opportunities. Upadhyay similarly recognizes the importance of having women in the engineering field.

“The sparse number of women in technical fields…pushes me every day to work harder and inspire other women in the field and encourage new females to join.”

Upadhyay notes that it’s not hard to be inspired when surrounded by a “group of such brilliant minds” with a “commitment to excellence and dedication to research.” She finds the FSU community to be supportive and innovative.

At the same time, she appreciates her opportunity to study alongside such influential mentors. She traveled from Nepal seven years ago to pursue the educational facilities offered in the United States.

“Because I live in the opposite corner of the world from my parents, I tend to miss almost every family event. I also miss my country and its culture,” Upadhyay commented. However, she is determined to continue her education because her parents taught her that hard work pays off.

Upadhyay strives to be well rounded and make the most of the time she must spend away from her family. She tutors middle school students, has participated in blood drives, and distributed polio drops and vitamin A capsules to underprivileged children.

“Every day is a new experience. Every day I make a new mistake and try to learn from it. I am sure it only gets better from here.”

It is important to clarify your objectives in life. Knowing your goals from day one and developing a plan to achieve those goals not only saves time, but also keeps you on the right track. Success takes time and graduate school is not going to be a cakewalk. You have to work hard, and you have to work smart.