‘Young Alumna of the Year’ talks success at NASA 6 years post-grad

Richa Sirohi was awarded Baylor’s Young Alumna of the Year 2023 for her work as an engineer with NASA. Photo courtesy of Richa Sirohi

By Sydney Matthews | Staff Writer

Richa Sirohi, winner of the Young Alumna of the Year 2023 Award, has had incredible success as an End-to-End Information System Engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory as well as being a philanthropist for multiple organizations, after just graduating in 2018.

When first entering Baylor as a freshman, Sirohi said she set out an original career plan and prospective goals that she wanted to accomplish.

“I originally thought about biomedical engineering or maybe material science,” Sirohi said. “Somewhere in either freshman or sophomore year, a SpaceX engineer came in and spoke to us. That is when I realized that I had always loved space and it is an incredible field of science and a career path I could do with my life.”

When graduating as a Mechanical Engineering major from Baylor and getting her master’s degree in Systems Engineering at Cornell University, Sirohi said she discovered a passion for space engineering. Eventually, this lead her to work on missions such as the Mars Perseverance Rover, the Cold Atom Laboratory, Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols (MAIA), a Lunar Mission Concept and Europa Clipper.

Sirohi said something that has remained constant throughout her education and career is the value of mentorship and community.

“It is important to ask for help and build those communities that will support you. Sometimes when things go wrong or you are stressed, it is hard to find that support,” Sirohi said. “In some of these larger freshman classes, it can be harder to build those relationships, but just by going to open office hours and building those personal relationships is really important.”

During her undergraduate years at Baylor, Sirohi said she worked as an intern for JPMorgan Chase & Co. where she met her long-time mentor and friend, Lan Ha, who was her internship mentor at the time.

“I really tried to focus on Richa’s skill sets and things that she really enjoyed, as well as test her in those skills so that she could shine,” Ha said.

Ha said she mentored her interns in a special way that encouraged out-of-the-box thinking and growth.

“There was a lot of freedom to let her learn on her own and ask questions,” Ha said. “I wanted her to think of ideas and solutions, and I think she has carried that throughout. She really hones in on problems and comes up with solutions and keeps pushing forward, and I think that’s what made her so successful.”

Since mentoring Sirohi in her internship in 2016, Ha said she has remained impressed with her skills and drive.

“The energy she has to give back and be a mentor to a younger generation is really amazing,” Ha said. “I think often times people tend to forget that there are a whole bunch of people that helped you achieve your career goals, but she has never done that. She is always doing speaking engagements at her high school or going back to talk to her professors, and that is impressive.”

Sirohi said she is now using her own career experience to be a mentor for the next generation while remaining in touch with those who have helped her along the way.

“Keep an open mind. When you learn to fall in love with learning then you can do anything,” Sirohi said. “If you can recognize the skills that you are gaining then that opens a lot of doors for things that you can possibly pursue. It is a matter of perspective and being open to all opportunities will open new pathways for the future.”

Sydney Matthews is a senior journalism major with a concentration in advertising and a minor in business administration from Seattle, WA. This is her third semester at the Lariat and she is looking forward to working with the Lariat team and advancing her journalism skills. After graduation, she hopes to work in advertising at a global company.