A little opportunity goes a long way
Anupama: In Her Own Words
I come from a family of five in Nepal. When I was growing up, my mother was the sole earner in our family. She had a hard time sending three of us siblings to school. My older brother obtained merit-based scholarships to study, but even with that, it was difficult for my mother to send me and my younger sister to school.
That’s when the Little Sisters Fund stepped in. I remember I was in Grade 3 in 1999, when I wrote my first letter to Trevor Dai. After the first letter, I was assigned to my sponsor Elsa. I fondly remember meeting on the first Saturday of each month for our meetings. The meetings were mainly for writing letters to our sponsors. But it was so much more than that. I made life-long friends. I told stories. I checked out books from the LSF library. We ate home cooked meals for our lunch break in each meeting. With the help of my older sister-mentors and other friends at LSF, I learned how to dance. We would even practice and perform synchronized dance routines at our annual programs.
There were picnics, workshops, information sessions, immunization events, menstrual health education, sexual health awareness workshops, multivitamin distribution, dictionary distribution, photo sessions every couple of years, school books and bags distribution, book reading sessions and so many more types of learning and assistance programs. My life was peppered with LSF meetings and the presence of constant love and support from LSF. And then there were LETTERS FROM SPONSORS! The ultimate precious possessions of a younger Anupama.
After I graduated 10th grade in 2007, I volunteered to be a mentor at LSF, which came with the responsibility of teaching younger Little Sisters how to write their letters during each monthly meeting. LSF continued to support me in my education through the end of my high school years. After high school, I volunteered to be a Coordinating Mentor. I started mentoring Little Sisters from a school named Shanti Niketan in Bhaktapur. Mentoring my Little Sisters was one of the most awe-inspiring experiences of my life. Later, after I started my undergraduate studies in 2010, I took the responsibility of another school. I remember there was a Little Sister named Usha there who needed money for her heart surgery, and LSF helped her family with that.
As my undergraduate studies progressed, I was unable to continue as a Coordinating Mentor because of time constraints. Saying goodbye to my Little Sisters at both schools is still a bitter-sweet memory. I tried to attend the monthly LSF meetings whenever I could. During my undergraduate years, I was selected for a photography mentoring workshop offered by LSF. I am grateful for that opportunity because learning photography has made me become more aware of my inner world and how it relates to the outer world.
After finishing my undergraduate degree in Electrical and Electrical Engineering from Kathmandu University in 2014, I applied for a master’s program in the United States. I was accepted at Idaho State University in the fall of 2016. I finished my master’s degree in summer 2019, and was accepted in a PhD program at Boise State University (BSU) in the fall of 2019.
Currently, I am a third year PhD student at BSU. My research is to model and simulate a novel printer called the Plasma Jet Printer (PJP). This printer was developed by scientists at the NASA Ames Research Center. The printer can 3D print electronic devices in microgravity conditions, which will allow astronauts to sense biochemicals and gas in space. Outside of in-space applications, the printer can also be used to make electronic circuits on flexible substrates such as cloth or paper. The possibility that my research my lead to a future where we can wear an electronic clothing device blows my mind. A trench coat that lets you detect the carbon monoxide levels inside a mine—how cool is that? I am tasked with modeling and simulation of the printer so that we can better understand and use this technology.
I am extremely grateful to have come this far, and LSF has supported me every step of my journey. I believe there’s still miles to go before I sleep, miles to go before I sleep.