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Meet Akira Sewnath

March 01, 2023

It is only appropriate for Women’s History Month to highlight one of our amazing women at SSAI for the month of March! Akira Sewnath is a deep thinker, who enjoys being in nature, and history. Her advice for girls looking to get into a STEM career is: 

“No matter what field you’re interested in, the more hands-on experience you have, the better. Learn more about the field, figure out projects you can do with the time and resources that you have, and complete them.”

Thank you for that great piece of advice Akira, now let’s get to know a little more about you!

Where did you go to school? I studied computer engineering at the University of Florida.

What is your current role at work? I am a software engineer working with Goddard’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO).

What excites you most about your work? The people I get to interact with.

What is your favorite hobby? I enjoy studying philosophy. A couple of years ago, I went through some huge life changes, and during that time I found comfort in reading philosophy. This eventually led me to take courses online and a couple of courses at UMD. I particularly love discussions about hard ethical questions.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received? “Forget the bad other people have done to you. Forget the good you’ve done for others. Never forget the good others have done for you.”
Share something that not many of your colleagues might know about you. I go hiking a lot these days, particularly to look for mushrooms. It’s a passion my partner introduced to me. The thrill of finding a mushroom you’ve been searching for is wonderful.

What is something you’ve done in your life that makes you feel accomplished? Picking up weights and getting stronger. What I’ve learned is that developing physical toughness helps develop mental toughness. Mental toughness can help lower your tolerance for things in life that are draining. 

What’s your dream vacation location? London. I want to have authentic English afternoon tea and I’ve been wanting to see Kew Gardens.

Tell us your favorite life hack. Thrifting is the ultimate life hack. I find it much more rewarding to get things secondhand.

What question would you most like to know the answer to? Elie Wiesel said that the questions you ask yourself are more important than the answers, because answers come and go but the question remains. The question I continually ask myself is “What am I meant to do?”

What is the most important lesson you feel you’ve learned? Consistency, whether that is consistency of thought or action, is life changing. For me, I’ve learned that consistency can only arise when I do something for “the right reasons,” meaning that whatever I do consistently truly aligns with my values.

Who or what inspires you? Robin Arzón (an American runner), Ffion Davies (a Welsh mixed martial artist), and Simone de Beauvoir (French existentialist philosopher, writer, social theorist, and feminist activist.)

What makes you smile when you’re having a bad day? My guinea pigs.
If you could time travel, what time period would you want to visit? The Regency period because I love Pride and Prejudice and all things Jane Austen.

What are you most looking forward to this year? All the books I’ve yet to read, and all the places I have yet to see.

What do you with your spare time? Playing cozy games on the Nintendo switch, knitting, and learning how to embroider.

What is something you feel is underrated? Long solitary walks outside or doing a meditative task without any distraction. It’s a great time for introspection and relaxation.

What do you wish you knew more about? Psychology, architecture, sociology.

What fictional place would you most like to go? The bioluminescent forest from the movie Avatar.

Thank you for letting us spend a little time getting to know you better Akira. Hopefully you've inspired some people to try out some of your passions as well.