From Discouraged to Determined: Graduate Aims for the Stars

From Discouraged to Determined: Graduate Aims for the Stars

Growing up, Sindhu Belki was often discouraged from reaching for the stars. 

Belki knew she wanted to pursue a career in aeronautics from a young age, but she realized she would have to leave her home country to achieve those dreams.  

“I grew up in Qatar, and we don’t have a space industry. But ever since I was little, I always dreamed of being an astronaut,” she said.  

Now, Belki is set to graduate this spring with her bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from The University of Alabama. 

Although leaving her home country and her family seemed scary, Belki knew she had to in order to pursue her dreams. As soon as she stepped onto The University of Alabama’s campus, she knew this was the place where she was meant to be.

“Right from the beginning, it felt like everyone at The University of Alabama wanted to make a difference in my life and my career,” she said. 

After she decided to commit to The Capstone due to the wealth of scholarships offered, she immediately felt at home and ready to pursue her passion.  

It felt like everybody I talked to was heavily invested in my education and ensuring that I got to pursue my education. Throughout my time here, I have felt nothing but warmth and joy.

Sindhu Belki

Since arriving at The University of Alabama, Belki has garnered many accolades and scholarships. She received the Zed Factor Fellowship, which highlights underrepresented minorities in the aerospace industry, and the Brooke Owens Fellowship. She also served as the project manager of the Alabama Rocketry Association, UA’s student-run rocketry club. Under her guidance, the team placed 18th nationally. She also represented UA at the 74th International Aeronautical Congress, where she presented her first paper on small satellite launch services. At the conference, she was one of the youngest delegates ever, at just 21 years old. 

During her time at UA, Belki was able to network with many people in the industry, making connections that helped her secure internships.  

“A lot of [UA] alumni go on to work in big-name companies like NASA and SpaceX,” she said. 

Belki hopes her accomplishments and actions will inspire young girls to pursue their passion.  This summer, she will be participating in a series of educational talks across Qatar in collaboration with universities and high schools across the country. While in Qatar, she hopes to highlight the space industry’s importance and continuous impact on the world and on our daily lives. 

After graduation, Belki will begin a Master of Aerospace Engineering this fall at Georgia Tech — and credits The University of Alabama for helping her get there. 

“Bama felt like the only place where I could be anything I wanted to be. I was able to define my identity here, and I will truly miss it,” Belki said.