Growing up in India, Simran Bhalla dreamed of one day working for NASA and venturing into outer space. She moved to California only three years ago to begin her higher education journey.
“America has given me a lot of opportunities to challenge myself, learn and grow,” she said. “However, I faced a lot of difficulties due to the high living expenses.”
As a student at De Anza College, she relied on a community kitchen for meals. She transferred to San Jose State University last year to pursue a degree in business administration with a concentration in management information systems. This summer she received some news that would help alleviate some of her financial concerns. Bhalla was selected to receive a California State University Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement. She received both the Trustee Emerita Claudia H. Hampton Scholar Award and the Trustee Emeritus William Hauck and Padget Kaiser Scholar Award.
Since starting her studies at SJSU, Bhalla began volunteering at Third Street Community Center. The non-profit organization provides educational programs for youth in San Jose. She is also an active member of the Management Information Systems Association on campus and is working alongside her professor to design products to assist students in their career goals.
This year, she is developing applications to improve the health and well-being of those impacted by natural disasters. She herself has a heart condition called mitral valve prolapse that sometimes causes a rapid heartbeat and chest pain.
“All my professors have been very supportive and understanding so that has helped me to manage my studies well,” she said.
Simran plans to earn a PhD and eventually work as a data scientist at NASA to aid and promote scientific research. But she also has other reasons for keeping focused on the future.
“There are a lot of young children who are not able to fulfill their dreams due to a lack of resources and opportunities,” she said. “I want to help them, which is only possible if I become financially independent.”
She imagines traveling and volunteering some day in different countries around the world, and perhaps returning to India to help an animal shelter where she volunteered in the past.
“The shelter treats sick and injured homeless animals, but it is currently facing financial problems,” she said. “I want to complete my degree and get a good job so that I can also help the animal shelter.”