Growing up, Sarvani Manikyala was a self-described “machine freak.” The grad student hailing from India says she was always fascinated by machines. How they work, how they’re assembled — everything about machines piqued her interest. Earning her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in her home country, Sarvani opted to continue her education in the United States, selecting UM-Dearborn as her university of choice. “I ended up coming to UM-Dearborn because Dearborn is the automotive hub of the entire United States,” she says. “I thought this was a good option where I could think of my career as well as have fun learning what I’m doing.” Though the transition to American customs wasn’t easy, Sarvani found comfort in student organizations that support international students like herself and eventually climbed the ranks within these organizations, taking on leadership roles to ultimately serve students following similar journeys as her own.
Sarvarni, in her own words
On finding home at UM-Dearborn. “As an international student, when I first came to Dearborn, I found — right from accommodation to getting used to the customs here — it was a very hard transition for me. I had various problems, which couldn’t be addressed on my own, like shopping for clothes, or how to commute with public transport, or if I wanted someone to take me to the grocery stores. In that journey, I had a few student organizations, which I’m a part of right now — especially the Indian Graduate Student Association and the Graduate Student International Organization. Every person who I met in these organizations helped me address all my issues and concerns here. That made my journey smooth and the transition really easy.”
On paying it forward. “Now that I’ve been at UM-Dearborn for a couple of years, I thought, maybe I would help all of the other international students who seek help. When I initially met other students on my path, I thought it was not just me. It was the journey of every international student. So, in order to help them, right now, I’m trying to support them in every way I can. I’m right now serving as vice president of the Indian Student Graduate Association and also the secretary of the Graduate International Student Organization. From helping them find their accommodations to helping them find a mentor or organizing professional development workshops to make them career-ready, we help them and guide them throughout their journeys.”
On being a woman in engineering. “Girls are not suited for working in challenging and stressful environments according to the people in my home country. But my parents have always been encouraging in whatever choices I make. I never liked working on the same monotonous jobs. I want my work to be challenging and adventurous. With my parents’ support, I was able to take up Mechanical Engineering in my undergrad followed by doing my masters in Industrial Engineering. In the future, I want to commit to my passion. My dream career is to see myself working as a quality engineer in a reputed automobile manufacturing company.”