My heart is in the work
“My heart is in the work,” said Andrew Carnegie, the founding father of Carnegie Mellon University in 1900. Indeed, as a budding behavioral science researcher, this statement strongly defines my passion and drive to bring about a change for the good in everything I do. In life, I observed how a nation evolves and the regulation of business works. My country’s failure to safeguard good governance reaffirmed my motivation to continue working as a professional educator who can serve and establish more decisive institutional action between the government and its financial organisations, as well as nurture youth minds to become more potent instruments of governance.
Who am I?
In a nutshell, I’m a South Asian- educated from the now ‘outdated’ knowledge. A work in progress learner, I’m the black sheep of my family. Coming from a dynasty of service laborers, my choice to pursue a teaching career from the age of 22 has always been questioned. « Who’s gonna give you teaching work, Divya? No student will take you seriously. There are too many teachers in this world already », my father would always repeat.
My grandfather has certainly achieved great things and has done a lot for the country. He was a frontline army man during the Kargil war defending India fearlessly. Till his last breath, he continued to be involved in public service - training and guiding the future soldiers. I look up to his courage and his outstanding career path but I don’t want to pursue the same journey. I think there are other ways in which I can contribute to the development of my country and I have figured out how.
In college, I had my first exposure to research and what it meant to be a researcher. It was mind-blowing to learn how an academic thesis on my curiosity to understand- Why Do People Stay Poor? made a significant change in my outlook to life. The fact that using behavioral nudges, I was able to generate an appetite for savings and investment habits among 3 poverty-stricken families to go against Oscar Lewis’s theory of ‘Culture of poverty’ — made me go from a frivolous teen to a responsible adult. I demand to not give up on the ignored ones. Awareness is both a boon and a bane. Recognizing this, I spent a lot of time in the lab, trying to make progress on my research projects. As I spent more and more time in the lab, I decided that I wanted to make a career out of it.
My friend asked me ‘Why don’t you want to become an investment banker? You’re a straight- A Gold medal in our batch’
I said it’s simple, you're a hamster running on a wheel and generating electricity. They pay you 100k dollars a year, sure. But what happens when you do well? Oh, you run 12 miles an hour, try 15. Try 20. Try 25. Try 40. One day you either die or retire. Your life is limited to that wheel and it comes with an expiration date. Like meat.
Teaching is like wine. The older I get, the more I learn, the wiser I get, and the more I can teach. There’s no retirement age. You contribute to society directly. People look up to you to shape their lives. You get paid to study and learn and make yourself better. Yes, it's not as high paying as the hamster in a wheel but I’d rather have peanuts till I die and be happy than getting booze until one fine day when I have to adapt and struggle to keep up my expensive habits from the booze. Plus it’s a matter of choice. When the world ends, nobody is going to care what a banker thinks. All news channels run to professors and academicians. That being said you have no idea what it feels like when a student tells you how you made a positive impact on their lives and guided them through something. It’s a feeling not even a million dollars a year can get you.
I haven’t regretted my choice for one second. And I truly think that pursuing a profession in academia has allowed me to discover and explore different career paths.
As an Asian woman coming from a low socioeconomic background, I recognize that bringing unique experiences can positively contribute to solving problems and as a result, I want to encourage more diversity in research.
When I was a misfit in the world and decided to give up, teachers always kept me going and understood me. That’s a superpower. And one of the reasons I always felt to give back this.
With global pandemic, terrorist insurgency, hate violence on the rise- People have given up on people. This might spike a controversy here but I feel no longer space exploration is about knowing the unknown but an escape plan. Maybe hence we are still human ‘being’ than “Be”. I’ll rather have hope in my own ‘being’ and live a life with a purpose via my work evangelizing young civilians to reassure them of humanity.
Your tribe defines your vibe. Decide it yourself…
Do you wanna fly the highest for a while
Do you wanna fly the longest forever, creating a legacy.
Currently, I am highly interested in pursuing a position for any public service-based role working as a behavioral scientist upon the successful completion of my Ph.D.
I intend to work at the nexus of technology and human behavior, creating products and programs that aid people live safer and healthier lives. That’s my dream to design and build side projects to change behaviors around social inequities. To touch and inspire as many youths as possible. Does this sound greedy? Well guilty me.
Moreover, in whichever path I pursue, I would like to continue mentoring students from low socioeconomic backgrounds to increase diversity in the field of research and serve my community. I would also like to increase behavioral literacy and be an advocate for higher education.
Ps: I miss this👆 In-person sessions. I can’t put into words the euphoric feeling I get when I bridge the conceptual clarity, act as a facilitator, or even be addressed as ‘Mother’ at the age of 26. It’s a pious, personal overwhelming burst of emotions that I will give my arms and legs for.
Will I make history or leave a proud legacy behind? Just a teacher? I can’t conclude so I’ll confuse you with 👇…..