Before Twilight catapulted her name into superstardom, Kristen Stewart was in a very lowkey space film called Zathura: A Space Adventure, which was missed by many when it hit theatres.
Despite being a flop at the box office, the film has apparently touched one such hopeful by the name of Vanmitha Athimoolam, who deems the movie as her catalyst towards learning more about space.
In an interview with Free Malaysia Today, she told them,
“Zathura was the first space movie I’d ever seen, and when I saw what space looked like in the movie it fascinated me. From then on I had this curiosity about life beyond earth.”
Now, Vanmitha is 20 years old and an aerospace engineering student with dreams that could potentially break the ceiling for all aspiring Malaysian astronauts.
After having entered a global Career Astronaut competition, she hopes to be a finalist selected so she could go on to move to the U.S and train for the anticipated suborbital flight. If that happens, she will be the only Malaysian finalist in the competition.
As hinted at prior, Vanmitha has been an avid space fan since she was little. Not only did she watch movies orbiting the topic, she was so determined in her aspirations that it aroused concern in her parents and other family members.
Coming from Malaysia, where the only notable astronaut we sent to space was Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar, many were sceptical of Vanmitha’s dreams. She said,
“When I was young, people told me I had no future in Malaysia. ‘Forget about your dream, do something ordinary like medicine or law, or become a teacher.'”
She fell into a depression after finding out the NASA only accepted U.S citizens into their programmes.
On the verge of giving up, she stumbled upon a local space NGO that had gatherings with likeminded people who were set on breaking the barriers when it comes to space education in Malaysia.
She regained her sense passion for space and continued her strive for the stars.
As a young woman in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields), Vanmitha’s goal is to encourage other young women to pursue their passions and to not be deterred by gender stereotypes in Malaysia.
While we are progressing as a nation, Vanmitha still believes that “we’re just not where we’re supposed to be” when it comes to dispelling these stigmas.
As her parting words, she said,