Student Spotlight: Divya Vellanki

Divya Vellanki, a master’s student in computer science, came to UF from Andhra Pradesh, India and hit the ground running. Self-determined and ambitious, Divya dives into every opportunity available to her to enrich her college experience, determined to push herself out of her comfort zone and make a big impact in every endeavor she undertakes.

After she received her bachelor’s in computer science from Sastra University in India, she worked for VMware in Karnataka for 7 years. Starting out as an intern she soon became a full-time employee. The experience brought about a shift in how she saw herself. “I started off as this very introverted person, an only child in my family. But when I started working in the industry, I really enjoyed living by myself,” she said. “I always saw that combination of resources and ability to be independent as a kind of advantage. I began to identify myself more as a leader.”

“It felt very clear when I arrived at UF that my master’s journey would be more than just getting grades and completing courses and my GPA. I wanted to meet people, try new things—whether that’s from a personal, professional, or technical standpoint. I enrolled for Entrepreneurship in Engineering. I wanted to take that because I imagine myself one day running a business. I came to UF knowing that I wasn’t like other master’s level students. I had this whole breadth of workforce experience, and I wanted that to work to my advantage, to help me stand out.”

Divya has applied her time and expertise as a PK Yonge Volunteer teacher, an active member of Society of Women Engineers, a mentor for the International Mentorship Association, a Flapmax product management intern, and has submitted project pitches for both the Big Idea and HERO X competitions. She currently works part time in Strategic Research Development here at UF.

She recently represented UF at the Voice conference for Women in Voice, an organization that looks behind the scenes at linguistics, programming, and voice acting for products like Siri and Alexa.

How does she keep up with it all? “What I have learned is to take things one step at a time. If you think you’ve missed a window, it is okay. There is something else waiting for you. Keep your eyes open. Do not wait for someone else to come and say ‘hey, this is what you need to do.’ You have to go and figure it out. What I love about the U.S., people here are just putting themselves out there. It is you who has to make the effort. You have to be ready to put in hard work.”

Samantha Jones