You’re Fabulous — Stories of Amazing Women

This is our third post in our “You’re Fabulous” series. Over the course of this series, LetsHaveCoffee will be profiling a series of amazing Indian women — women who have broken stereotypes, dared to follow their dreams, acted with courage and chosen to do what they thought was right instead of what everyone else thought was right.

They may not be famous. They may not have won laurels or accolades for their achievements. But, in their own way, they are heroes given their circumstances and what they did despite those circumstances.

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This series, titled ‘You’re Fabulous’, hopes to capture the inner fabulous-ness in the women around us and celebrate them for their achievements.

Introducing Snetu, our third woman in this series.

Snetu, an Environmental Engineer from Stanford University, and a self-taught Painter, followed her passion and went against her family’s wishes, to get to where she is today.

“I am the first in my family to get a Masters degree”, says Snetu who was raised in a traditional Gujarati business family. She says most girls in her community get married by 21 and almost no girls pursue sciences. She was always a bright student and had to fight her way to opt for sciences in high school and go for engineering entrance exam coaching. She made it to the prestigious National Institute of Technology, Karnataka which is located near Mangalore, 8 hours from Bangalore. Her family was not in favor of her pursuing an engineering degree because of their traditional mentality and concerns about marriage. She went against her elders at home and made her way to NITK to pursue a degree in Chemical Engineering.

Over the four years, she developed an interest in environmental engineering. She wanted to pursue higher education and got a highly coveted Stanford admit. Her father supported her this time, turning against the rest of the family. It was difficult for her family to see spending on education as a smart investment and delay marriage which would also make it harder to find marriage prospects. She earned double masters at Stanford in Environmental Engineering and Environmental Fluid Mechanics & Hydrology.

Things finally turned around when her parents visited her to attend her graduation ceremony at Stanford. She introduced them to her professor and peers, who spoke very highly of her and applauded her parents to be supportive. Ever since, her parents have been supportive and very proud.

She says “My family has asked me why I chose environmental engineering and not an area that pays better and now they have come to understand that it’s the work and satisfaction, not the money.”

Snetu has worked on measuring impact on public health due to air emissions. She thinks that the way to find a longer term solution to solve current environmental issues, is to develop solutions that are economically viable, environmentally sustainable as well as socially acceptable and re-design things bottom-up. She thinks that “clean-up” efforts can only go so far. Snetu dreams of designing a system which takes into account all the factors that impact the environment in one way or the other — infrastructure, technology, behavioral habits, etc.

When asked what she is looking for in a relationship, she says that her partner has to be a good friend first and instead of taking on traditional gender roles, they need to support and complement each other. She says it’s important to remain economically and emotionally independent. It is important for her to have her identity and life goals, while cultivating a healthy relationship.

Snetu says, “When I leave this world, I should have had an impact and people should remember me for who I was.”

Team LetsHaveCoffee salutes you Snetu!