STEM Story: ABC7 Meteorologist recounts her journey into a STEM field

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- On Pi Day this year woman in STEM industries around the US wore purple to bring awareness to the need of more women in STEM fields.

ABC7's own Meteorologist Sandhya Patel shared her story about getting into a STEM field in hopes of inspiring others to do the same:

Science and math are fun! Here's my story. I always loved both subjects from the time I was in elementary school! I remember my sixth-grade teacher made Biology fun and my 9th-grade teacher taught me a lot about Chemistry! I didn't have the same fear of math that other kids had growing up. I really enjoyed Algebra and Calculus! Don't ask me to solve those problems now because I have forgotten-- it has been so long!

Anyhow, my point is that science and math can really be fun and challenge your mind so give them a chance and try them out because you may like them.

For those of you who are already taking those classes and are feeling like you're overwhelmed.. hang in there and embrace the subjects!

I graduated from college with a degree in Radio and Television and started out in a small market where I did every job from reporting to anchoring to producing and writing for the news to even writing a weather script for our weekend anchors to read on air! I really didn't enjoy covering the gang-related shootings or the plane crashes. It was tough to remain subjective when the stories took tragic turns.

I mentioned this to a few of my mentors and they helped guide me. I accidentally fell into weather and made a career out of it!

My mentors encouraged me to pursue meteorology because at the time there were only a few female minorities in weather. I didn't have the background in this field and didn't know what would happen but, I always knew it was a field that excited me so I gave it a shot!

I got a crash course training with our chief meteorologist and auditioned for the job like several other people. Somehow, I convinced the managers that I was the right fit for the weekend job and got it! Now the real test came in. When I forecast sunshine-- it would rain and when I said it was going to rain it was bright and sunny!

I felt so disappointed that the weather didn't cooperate and I didn't get it right. Somehow I let my viewers down. This was a learning lesson for me and I decided I needed to learn weather and get it right! I made it a personal and professional goal and enrolled in a three and a half year correspondence meteorology program while working in television full time.

It was tough but, I wasn't going to give up. It was just not in my DNA to throw in the towel! I finished the program, got my certification in meteorology and applied for my American Meteorological Society (AMS) Seal of Approval and my National Weather Association (NWA) Seal of Approval and got them both.

I made my mistakes, learned from them and also learned from my peers at my station that had many years in the saddle and knew how to forecast. After three years of doing weekend weather, I got promoted to weeknights at the same station and took great pride in the chance to bring viewers the forecast every night.

After spending six years forecasting the weather in the city I grew up, I knew it was time to move on and pursue my dream job. I got the opportunity to work in San Francisco and was thrilled! I spent over seven years waking up in the middle of the night to bring the San Francisco Bay Area the forecast every weekend and I filled in for all my colleagues doing the different weather shifts.

When I wasn't doing that, I was out in the field reporting from the elements whether it was rain or snow or sleet or waves. That went on for seven years and after that, I was promoted to my dream job of working prime time here! I never look back. I make every effort to get the forecast right to help you plan your day and keep you safe when storms hit.

I take great pride in the fact that I do get the forecast right most of the time.

I hope this inspires you to pursue a career in STEM because science, technology, engineering and math are exciting fields!
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