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What Teaching Thousands in Quantum Taught One Rising STEM Leader

Sanskriti Deva, an Indian-American quantum engineer and passionate STEM educator, has an extraordinary story to share. Having taught over 10,000 people about the fascinating realm of quantum computing — from elementary schoolers to industry professionals — her journey has yielded profound lessons that transcend scientific boundaries.

For Deva, who at 17 became “one of the youngest elected officials and got to bring a lot of youth engagement to the United Nations as a member of Gen Z,” the path to quantum enlightenment began with an unlikely source of inspiration — superhero movies.

“I’m a really big comic fan and I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I kept hearing that word [quantum] over and over again I became more interested in what it meant,” she explained during a recent TEDx talk at North Carolina State University.

However, Deva’s initial self-doubt nearly prevented her from embarking on this quantum adventure.

“Honestly, if you had asked me like five years ago if I would be on stage talking about quantum computers, I would have said no, that’s impossible. I’m not smart enough,” she admitted. It was her students who helped her overcome this mindset, leading to her first powerful realization: “You don’t have to be an innate genius or super talented at something to pursue something that you’re passionate about.”

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Deva’s second lesson came from witnessing her students’ shared struggles and triumphs.

“I learned this when I started teaching quantum computing for the first time — it was honestly the first time I had interacted with other people that were interested in the same subject I was,” she said. “There are people out there who like the same thing you do, regardless of how niche it is, and there are people out there that are also facing the same issues that you are as well.”

But it was her youngest pupils who imparted perhaps the most profound wisdom.

“They raised their hand and they said, ‘I want to be a quantum computing princess ballerina dancer boxer president,’ or they said something like, ‘Why not? I thought this would be cool,’” Deva recounted. From their unencumbered perspectives, she realized: “You don’t have to just choose one thing. You can be a multitude of things.”

Reflecting on this revelation, Deva expressed that she believes our quality of life improves when we, like quantum particles that exist in dual states, embrace our multitude of identities and our multifaceted nature.

She passionately urged her audience: “I encourage you to become an engineer and an artist, a scientist and a storyteller, a princess and a president.”

Sanskriti Deva’s extraordinary journey from aspiring quantum student to esteemed educator has yielded profound insights into the boundless potential of curiosity, community, and self-acceptance. Her inspirational call to embrace the “superposition” of our multidimensional identities resonates far beyond the realm of quantum physics, reminding us all to fearlessly explore the infinite possibilities that lie within.

Featured image: Credit: TEDx

James Dargan

James Dargan is a writer and researcher at The Quantum Insider. His focus is on the QC startup ecosystem and he writes articles on the space that have a tone accessible to the average reader.

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