My name is Sharmishtha Saxena or Sharmi for short. I am currently a sophomore at Stony Brook University, my majors being Mathematics and Physics.

I am here as an international student from Northern India, Chandigarh to be precise. I came to New York right after completing my twelfth grade (referred to as +2) in the non-medical science stream. I did not have any plans to study abroad until I realized that Research and Education was the field that I had intense passion for, and that scope for such a discipline is not very well established in my home country, as of now.

As a child, I had a very unusual habit of classifying things. I would classify anything and almost everything as good or bad, right or wrong, easy or tough, or any other possible category you can think of. Therefore, I was under the notion that becoming a scientist/mathematician is nearly impossible. My parents told me that I would have to study really hard to become, what I then dreamt of being, a medical doctor. Why medicine? Well, by default everyone expected me to be a doctor because my parents were, and still are, doctors. I grew up talking about patients on the dining table! Once in a while, I would go to my fathers hospital chamber and operation theatre, only to realize how rewarding it may have felt to cure someone. However, I had a totally different love for numbers. I was always eager to know the logic behind any kinds of phenomenon. While my friends and fellow students would blatantly accept whatever was being taught in class, I would go up to the teacher to enquire the technicalities behind the issue. For the same reason, I was never very good friends with History and other social sciences. They required only memorization of events and facts, which thankfully I was capable of in order to get good scores, but they had no room for logic. Similarly, to a certain extent, Biology and Chemistry cannot answer the question "Why?" For instance I wonder why water, and not any other substance, forms the basis for life on Earth. We all know that water is required for all metabolic activities occurring inside organisms, but if I ask my teacher why, the answer I get is, "Just because water is important for life!"

Since the education system in India is designed in a way such that students have to choose their career (or subjects) right after tenth grade, I chose the non-medical science stream that consisted mainly of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. Unfortunately, I could not keep Biology as the fourth subject because my school did not permit me to (which was frustrating). I had a very good score in Math in tenth grade, which kept me motivated to do well despite the fact that the difficulty level of Math increases exponentially when one makes a transition from tenth to eleventh grade. But sadly, I had to go through a rough patch when my Math teacher taught the material very ambiguously. I failed to comprehend most of what was being taught in class. I did poorly on tests, and there came a time where I was suffocated to a point that I considered dropping out of a Math career. I could not handle the depression, and for me it was unbelievable to have a break up with Math. I saw my dream close to an end. But I gave it another try, and luckily I switched to a section which had a different Math teacher. It was then that I realized that I was not at fault. I understood all concepts. Everything started to make perfect sense. I began to get better grades than the most knowledgeable students of my class. I saw that my dream had missed its pathetic end by less than a microsecond, and had started a new beginning.

But the point is, what is my dream? While my classmates were preparing for competitive exams to get into engineering colleges, I was still figuring out what I wanted to be. I didnt want to be an engineer, because engineers study Physics and Math only up to a certain level, not even a step beyond that. I wanted Physics and Math to be my best friends for life. I wanted to get the answers to almost all my questions before I die. This dream stirred me into thinking about research. Therefore, I decided to come to a research institution like SUNY Stony Brook to get a good start.

Other than my scientific life, I love to play the piano. I relish sports; tennis, cricket and badminton are my favorite. I am a good cook, and I like to bake. Moreover, I recently found out that I have an innate passion for photography, which I have inherited from my father. I am artistic and creative, and I owe this talent to my mother.

It feels great to be in contact with like-minded students and professors. I hope to pursue my dream and make my parents proud.