Perhaps you’ve crossed paths with her while walking along Hillsborough Street, sat beside her on the bus or quickly slid past her desk in class. Meet Sanskriti Deva, the youngest council member of the United Nations National Council, who, just like you and me, is a student at NC State.
Deva, a fourth-year computer engineering student, started her journey in her hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. Her family values helped shape her into the change-maker she is today.
“My family never really put pressure on me to achieve anything externally, instead they always taught me to prioritize myself and focus on internal values. They told me you come into this world alone and you also leave alone, so make sure the legacy you leave behind is wonderful and helps others. I want to leave the world better than I found it, even if it’s just for one person, that’s why I do everything.”
Deva’s passion for making the world a better place began at her underserved high school. She recognized how achievement-based funding was perpetuating the systemic underfunding of Charlotte Mecklenburg High School and opposed these policies. Upon transferring to the North Carolina School of Science and Math, she felt unfulfilled and searched for new ways to make an impact. This yearning for change motivated Deva to establish a chapter of the United Nations Association of the USA at her new school, with the mission of supporting the UN through its Sustainable Development Goals.
So, how does one go from leading a high school club to becoming an elected member of the UN National Council? Deva credits this remarkable achievement to a chance encounter and unwavering passion.
“I got really involved and one day a staff member from the UN came to give a speech on UN Day. She suggested that I run for the National Council because there was an opening in our district.”
In a state of confusion and self-doubt, Deva questioned if she was qualified to serve as a council member of the United Nations.
“I thought, absolutely not, I’m a seventeen-year-old kid. She told me ‘if you run, you will be the youngest person ever to run and that’s powerful because even if you don’t win, you’ll motivate other people to do the same.’ I thought about it and I was like you know what, I believe in failing forward. So, I decided to take the chance and I ended up winning.”
Failing forward. This principle has led Sankrititi Deva to become the youngest elected member of the United Nations Association’s National Council. Re-elected in 2023, Deva represents seven states in the Southeast region and focuses her policy efforts on promoting diversity, women’s rights and human rights. Deva’s remarkable achievements have left many of us college students wondering how she still finds time for her academic pursuits at NC State.
“I always go back to my why I’m doing something. I’m President of the Quantum Computing club, President of Women in Electrical Computer Engineering, and Vice President of Corporate Communication for the Society of Women Engineers. I think student organizations are the most underrated way to make an impact, but my most fulfilling work has been through them. It can be overwhelming, but I always go back to my why.”
What is Deva’s why? As a woman of color in STEM, Deva finds passion in creating inclusive spaces on campus.
“There was a moment that really changed my point of view when I was in an introductory engineering class. This girl raised her hand, she was asking questions and I felt so reassured. That experience motivated me to take up space unapologetically. I want to be that girl
for someone else.”
To all those students with niche interests, Deva can relate. Her passions for quantum computing, social justice and activism may seem unconventional, but they allowed her to create unique spaces for change at NC State and the United Nations.
“If you can’t find the community for your interests, it’s time for you to start that community. People will come to you if you put yourself out there.”
NC State is full of brilliant minds and world-changing ideas. The person beside you in class could be a member of the United Nations or a future Nobel Prize winner. In the words of our fellow student Sanskriti Deva, let us embrace community and the spirit of failing forward.