Women Who Reign: Jothi Ramaswamy
“You don’t have time to be timid. You must be bold and daring.”
– Lumière, Beauty and the Beast
Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I am a sophomore at Lakeland High School in NY and a strong advocate for bridging the gender gap in technology. Through my 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, ThinkSTEAM, I have partnered with several major corporations and organizations (including IBM, SWE, PepsiCo, Barnes & Noble, Columbia University, Facebook, etc.) to conduct hands on technology workshops and a STEM mentoring program for K-12 girls. As a STEAM aficionado, my goal is to use STEM and the arts to inspire young girls to become the leaders of tomorrow. I am also a part of the Girls Inc.’s Girls Leadership Council, where I get to meet other girls in Westchester who have the same passions as I do to combat issues in my community. As a part of the Science Honors program at Columbia University, I enjoy taking courses related to machine learning and graph theory. In addition, I am a member of my school’s Science Research Program, Chamber Orchestra, Varsity Debate Team, and Varsity Track & Field Team. I also have received achievements in NYSSMA level 6 for the violin.
A fun fact about myself is that goat cheese and cruise dinners do not go well together. #notforme
What # would define your life journey?
What are your recent accomplishments?
I have been recognized by the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT) with their Aspirations in Computing award. I am also a New York State Distinguished Finalist of the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. I also have been named an #include Fellow by the She++ organization and recently attended the She++ #include Fellowship Summit at the Bay Area, along with 29 other #include fellows.
Favorite website / app:
My favorite app/website is definitely YouTube. Not only can I use it for watching videos from my favorite YouTubers, but I can also watch many tutorial videos and expand my coding knowledge as well. I first learned how to code in Swift by watching YouTube videos and tutorials. In addition, I always use CNN and other news sites to learn about what is happening in the world. I feel that it is very important to be aware of current events and reading the news is a great way to stay updated. I also like Coursera, Udacity, edX , and other MOOCs which enable me to take courses to expand my STEM knowledge. Last summer, I took a machine learning course from Stanford University’s Andrew Ng on Coursera which motivated me to pursue machine learning research later this summer.
Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
My mom is by far my biggest inspiration. After I lost my father, I was incredibly insecure and feared that my life would change for the worst. My mom inspired me to not only show the world that my family is doing well, but to also spread this well-being to others. She taught me that bravery is key to success and that I must be courageous no matter what happens in life. My mom is my rock, role model, and reason I started ThinkSTEAM. I would not be where I am if it weren’t for my mom’s support.
Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
When my father passed away eight years ago, a bubble of fear grew deep inside of me. My naivety faded. At seven years old, I grew up. I was still oblivious to the complexities of the world, but Hannah Montana was no longer my priority, and I sought to make sense of the frenzy that consumed my thoughts. I feared that my life would take a 360 degree turn. Witnessing my mom bravely overcome this obstacle and single-handedly raise my brother and I with a graduate degree in engineering made me realize that everything will be okay. I realized that because of her background in STEM, my mom was able to support my family. I wanted to give other women this ability to support themselves and be independent, so I started my nonprofit organization ThinkSTEAM to provide technology workshops for girls to teach them about STEM. By exposing girls to STEM at a younger age, I hope to impart knowledge in them to ignite their interest to pursue a career in STEM in the future.
An ideal job for me would be a job providing a safe and inclusive environment for women with equal opportunities for everyone. Women should be treated with respect and should be given salaries based on merit, not race or gender. Also, an ideal job should provide a work-life balance and should have a fun and friendly environment where I will get the motivation to grow my career.
What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Try something new! The only way to become successful is to keep challenging yourself, even if you make countless mistakes. Come out of your comfort zone and be willing to take risks! Also, be brave and stand up for whatever you believe in! You should never compromise your beliefs and never let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do.