We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachna nath and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rachna, we’d love to hear what makes you happy.
Making High school students think beyond their potential and make them realize that they can achieve their dreams, even after multiple failures, is what makes me happy. My passion is to trigger student’s achievements through authentic research-based thinking and show them that anything is possible if you are passionate about your goal.
While growing up, I always lacked a mentor who could build the connections I needed, to further my weird thinking and goals which was always in contradiction to the normal way of life. Life was hard with judgements all around as I was the only “general line/average” cousin among a whole array of engineers and doctors. I remember those days when I was also judged for learning dance or going to swim lessons. “A girl should not be taking dancing lessons”, I remember someone saying. I was bullied, physically abused, put down and taken advantage of all the time by my peers, when I just wanted to fit in. I felt like I was not good enough and that affected my self-confidence, my self-worth and also my dignity.
When I was unsuccessful in completing my PhD, 14 years after my first masters, my confidence in myself was at an all-time low. But a strange thing happened, I got a job as a high school teacher. Never in my dreams had I ever imagined myself as a high school teacher. My perspective towards my profession changed when I got an invitation to apply for the Lemelson-MIT grant. Now, I thrive among these high school students and take pride in each and every one of them. That makes me tremendously happy and I feel I have found my true passion, becoming the connecting link that I was missing during my school days. These students energize me, keeps me motivated and encourages me to think beyond the textbook for them. They have taught me resilience, self- belief and most of all “how to find happiness in what you do”.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have to admit, I am one of the lucky few who stumbled upon my passion completely by chance and that too when I was under depression, self-doubt and the world was closing down on me.
What keeps me motivated and busy are my busy bees (my students). Through my program called DRIPBL (Dream Research Innovate Project Based Learning), I was able to create a safe space for my students to be weird, to be vulnerable, to taste failure and rise up and finally using their critical thinking abilities and scientific reasoning, dream big, do research and innovate to solve real world problems, in the field that they are passionate about. That makes all the difference and they thrive in their own passions, which includes solving recycling problems, dead WI-FI zones, heat stress monitoring, water conservation, superfoods, book publications and the list goes on.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
One of my favorite places is Sedona, Arizona that’s surrounded by steep canyon walls, pine forests and red-rock buttes. The energy of that place is breathtaking. I also love visiting the Petrified Forest in Flagstaff and also the amazing Grand Canyon. But, my most favorite spot in the valley is my own backyard garden, where I can sit and chat with my friends for hours and hours on end. This is also my new found passion as I am starting to live life more sustainably and consciously reducing my carbon footprint. My itinerary will be to wake up late in the morning, eat a whole bunch of junk food, chat and watch movies late at night while giggling like a madman with my friends!!!!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would dedicate my shoutout to my dad and my mom. Their principles and ideologies have always pushed me, in spite of the society’s restrictions, to become better and at this stage of life, I cannot but thank them enough for the principles they instilled in me. My dad is a cricketer and he always used to tell us to be a sportsman and have a sportsman spirit. Failure and success are two faces of the same coin and the probability of heads or tails in your life is 50-50. So, repent not and see the world in a positive light and thrive on!!!.