Women Who Reign: Chinmayi Balusu

 “Los mejores momentos de la vida son los más simples.” A Spanish quote that translates to “the best moments in life are the simplest ones.”
Take time to admire the small, simple, forgotten things around you—they’re oftentimes the ones that are most impactful.

Meet Chinmayi Balusu! She was the 1st place grand prize winner of my regional science fair as well as a finalist in the 2019 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the premier science competition for high school students. She was also champion of the Sacramento Brain Bee, a high school neuroscience competition and represented her region in the USA National Brain Bee. She has received the Daily Point of Light Award and Presidential Volunteer Service Award for her volunteer work. Chinnmayi was named Grand National Champion by the United World Taekwondo Association in 2017, and she was a three-time finalist for National History Day California (top 12 for individual documentaries in the state).

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
My name is Chinmayi Balusu, and I’m a 17-year-old from northern California. I am currently an undergraduate student at Columbia University interested in the life sciences and medical humanities. I’m a nature lover, student researcher, girls in STEM advocate, leader, neuroscience enthusiast, sometimes poet, and quirky human in general.
Fun fact: I’m a 3rd-degree black belt in taekwondo!

Favorite website / app:
I use Notion for organizing tasks, tracking my bucket list, jotting down notes, etc. One of my favorite apps is called One Second Everyday, where I record a one-second video every day and combine them into a large video compilation—I’m trying to put together one for everything I’ve done in 2020! Additionally, Twitter has been great for connecting with other STEM and science communication folks—I always appreciate their innovative insight, guidance, humor, and more!

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
My mom is an absolute inspiration. She grew up in a small town in India and was the town’s first female engineer to graduate from college. After moving to the United States, she made amazing advancements in her work. My mom has been one of my strongest supporters throughout my education, and with her open mind and background, she never fails to provide insightful advice!

What song makes you want to dance, gives you courage to face the day, or makes you feel strong:
Any song by Coldplay! “A Sky Full of Stars” is wonderful.

Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
My age has caused many challenges for me, but facing those challenges early on has given me more courage to try again and again, with different methods and perspectives, if I fail the first time. I was always a bit on the younger side of the class growing up. In high school, when I started searching for hands-on opportunities that could introduce me to the life sciences and neuroscience, I was restricted from applying and/or rejected because I was “too young and not ready enough.” Even if I performed above and beyond academically and communicated effectively, one simple number would knock me down. Deciding to complete high school in three years and enroll in college at the age of sixteen was a large jump, but I was motivated to do so because I knew I wouldn’t be opposed by age restrictions. Now, I’m very content to be in a learning environment where my peers and instructors value my contributions without paying attention to how old I am.

Ideal Job:
My ideal job would be centered on helping others and giving back to my community. I would love to have a blend of working in a clinical setting, conducting research, serving with a non-profit organization, or becoming involved with science outreach and/or communication.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Even if an idea sounds completely absurd, go for it! You never know until you actually put effort into making something real.

Connect with Chinmayi on:
Instagram: @chinmayi_balusu
Twitter: @chinmayi_balusu

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